Although many years have passed since Lely High School brought home a state championship in softball, the accomplishment is never far from the minds of today’s players.
“We look up and see those banners in the gym,” said a JV player watching Friday night’s varsity game against Gulf Coast. “We have a lot to live up to.”
The Trojans hope a winning record this season will soften the memory of 2005.
“We didn’t accomplish much last year,” said Daniel Stovak, a Lely parent. “We had a losing record.”
Lely’s 2005 record was 5-17.
With the return of four seniors and several talented underclassmen, Lely has the personnel to turn things around. How it will play out on the field is the question.
“I’m confident we will play harder this year,” said head coach Jennifer Bledsoe. “We have a lot to prove.”
This is Bledsoe’s fourth season as head coach, although she wasn’t with the team most of last season due to maternity leave.
“It was a tough year for our girls,” said Bledsoe. “But it’s great to be back in the dugout.”
According to Bledsoe, this year’s pitching staff is one of the strongest she’s coached. Junior Chelsea Jones and sophomore Becca Mysels are expected to assemble a lot of outs for the Trojans.
Shortstop Samantha Mendello is another player to watch. A senior, Mendello hopes to play at the collegiate level next year.
“We’re working with Samantha pretty hard right now,” said Bledsoe. “She has what it takes to play in college. It’s a matter of refining her skills.”
Friday night, amidst light rain and wind, the Trojans faced off at home against the Gulf Coast Sharks.
In a game dominated by defense, Lely finished on top, 2-1.
“It was a great team effort,” said Bledsoe. “The girls played hard. They gave it their all.”
It was the eighth game of the season for the Trojans. The team’s record is now 5-3.
Mysels was the winning pitcher, allowing only two hits on the night. She had three strikeouts as well.
Christine Bayer helped out at the plate with a triple and one run scored.
“It’s a long season,” said Bledsoe. “We have a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
The Trojans have 15 games remaining, excluding the possibility of post-season play.