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Warley optimistic about PHCC’s ’14 potential

March 6, 2014

Patrick Henry Community College’s softball team is expected to be a Region X contender this season, largely because it will have four returning starters back from a season ago.

Two of the four returning players were first-team all-Region X players and another, Samantha Barton, earned second-team honors at both pitcher and utility.

After a strong fall exhibition season, the Lady Patriots have struggled at times early in 2014. PHCC is currently 4-6 overall (1-1 Region X).

“Right now, I think pitching is our top strength, then defense and then hitting,” said first-year coach Amanda Warley, a 2011 PHCC grad. “If you’d asked me that in the fall, I would have said hitting, then defense and pitching. So things have kind of flip-flopped on me.”

That shift is more the reflection of a well-balanced team than any sudden changes in unit production, the coach said.

PHCC will rely primarily on two pitchers this spring, as Barton will share innings with true freshman Haley Faulkner.

“They’re very comparable players. They both have good speed that’s complimented by movement, so they keep batters off guard well,” Warley said. “Most years, having two solid, strong pitchers on the same team is very rare in Region X. We feel good about that.”

Returning first-team selection Mary Skillman (third base), along with Barton and shortstop Morgan Revels, are some of the team’s best hitters, according to Warley.

Skillman and Revels also stand out as top defensive players. The other returning first-team selection from a year ago, Lindsey Packard, is the most well-rounded player, Warley says, having already played left field, third base, catcher and first base this season.

Overall, Warley thinks the Patriots area a team filled with a good mix of talent, experience and depth, and a team that could develop into a force by the end of the season, depending on how things unfold.

“We play defense very well together. I would say we’re very good hitters, but right now we’re in a little bit of a funk,” said Warley, who also played softball and earned a degree from North Carolina Wesleyan. “But once they get their bats back in line, they won’t have any major weaknesses. The defense is solid, and the pitchers have been throwing pretty well.

“Once the repetition of hitting comes back along, I think we’ll be in good shape,” she added.

Not including the pitcher, which may rotate throughout the season, Warley expects to start five sophomores and three freshmen this spring. She prefers to leave specific goals, such as winning the region or district, up to the players.

In her first season as head coach, Warley simply wants to see steady improvement from game to game.

“To always correct and work on things, to improve every day, that is my big thing,” she explained. “As long as we can all look back and see that every game there was an improvement from the beginning of the season to the end — in our team and our players as individuals — then I will be OK with the outcome.”

The team’s next game will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Richard Bland College in Petersburg. For more information about the team, including full schedules and rosters, visit www.phccsports.com.

Filed under: Softball

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