Last year, the Troy Buchanan softball team had a season to remember: finishing second in the state.
This year, after losing a few key players, coach Lance Richardson has the same expectations he does with every team: to be as much as the team can be.
“We lost some core seniors that were big for our program but we’ve been blessed with talent,” Richardson said. “Our expectation every year is to make a run. No matter what happened the year before, who we lose.”
Richardson acknowledged that they play in a very difficult conference, but said that in no way is that a bad thing.
“Our conference is always a challenge. The whole conference is usually strong. Our conference makes us better. We are blessed to have the conference opponents we have, that way it prepares us for district to play,” Richardson said.
The difference between teams at this level usually comes down to defense, and while TBHS has been very lucky to have some high quality pitchers and hitters, the defense is something that Richardson works hard to strengthen.
“Some years defense has been just okay, but the last few years it has really been the icing on the cake to do some special stuff,” Richardson said.
Richardson also works hard to cultivate players who are not only technically proficient softball players, but also players that have the “intangibles:” those indefinable, unquantifiable qualities, such as leadership and positive attitude.
“It’s something that we stress so much,” Richardson said. “You can have a great team but if there’s not the love for the game and being a good teammate, it just destroys it.”
The team’s mantra for the past few years has been “Who’s Willing?”
“It has nothing to do with softball. It’s who is willing to be a good teammate, who is willing to come out here and bust their butt everyday, who is willing to bring that great attitude as soon as they walk through the gate,” Richardson said.
Kim Debold, senior second base-woman, is going to play a major role this season.
A four year starter, Debold knows what it looks like to have a new group of players coming together at the beginning of the season and is looking forward to getting started.
“I’m looking for us to really come together as a new group and see all the new faces. Without our really good pitcher, people are looking down on us so I’m really excited to see us get together and prove to others what we got,” Debold said.
Natalie Sullivan, a junior center fielder, said, “It’s a really awesome feeling to play for Troy softball.”