FREMONT – Success for the Fremont Ross softball team in 2019 isn’t going to be determined by how often the Lady Giants score more runs than their opponents. First-year head coach Megan Turner has simpler measurements in mind as she takes over a program short on experienced veterans and long on youth.
“Our season is not going to be based on wins and losses, it’s about being able to compete,” Turner said following her team’s 9-1 season-opening loss Monday to Tiffin Columbian.
“We saw progress. It might be the big progress, but we’re selling it in small steps and that we’re continuously getting better and that is progress for us. We are making those small strides, so we can get those larger strides later in the season.”
A season ago Ross compiled a record of 10-16 but graduated eight seniors, nearly all of them starters. The team Turner inherits is one which is going to have to learn as it goes and mature in the process.
“We’re working on small goals, small accomplishments,” Turner said. “We’re working up on the bat right now, we’re working on being aggressive at the plate and then the next step is aggressive on the base paths and we’re continuously working on communication on the field. Especially being a young team, communication is definitely a need area for improvement right now.”
While Monday’s season-opener ended in an eight-run loss, there were a number of positives Turner and her team can build upon for the coming season.
Though Columbian scored three times in the top halves of both the first and second innings, Ross remained competitive, playing a full seven innings and gave itself scoring opportunities.
The Lady Giants put its lead-off hitter on base five times, including a triple by Kayla Rich, but four times that lead-off runner was stranded on base.
“We need to have those follow-up hitters make sure we get the ball in play,” Turner said. “It doesn’t have to always be a big hit, but just working on the basics, just get the ball in play to advance the runners.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Ross loaded the bases with no outs. Though the comeback rally fell short without a run, that the Lady Giants battled until their final out was more important to Turner than the scoreboard result.
“A successful season will be us working hard through a full seven innings,” she said. “I want us to make sure we can accomplish seven innings every game, I want us to come prepared and focused for all seven innings. Our biggest issue is being focused and making sure we work hard. I don’t want us to give up just because we have up runs. We are still in the battle through all seven innings. We did a good example of that today.”
Audrianna Melchor, who pitched part-time last season, takes over as the Lady Giants’ ace in the circle this season and did well for herself Monday. She finished with six strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings.
“She’s going to be the one we’re really leaning on and the biggest thing we’re working on with her is just owning the mound,” Turner said. “Just building that confidence. She has a lot of confidence but knowing that she can show it. She did very well today.”
Offensively, Ross’ returns just two full-time starters from a season ago, Rich, the lead-off hitter, and No. 3 hitter Kaylee Dodson. Following Dodson in the order, Malayah Horn had Ross’ only RBI Monday as her bases-loaded bloop single into shallow center field drove home Jakaia Harper-Horn.
“Kaylee is going to be very key hitter, she’s going to come in at those key times and get those key hits,” Turner said. “I have a lot of confidence in Malayah Horn to do the same thing.”
Though Ross managed just three hits Monday, it showed patience at the plate, working 10 walks and getting on base with regularity.
“At times we were too patient, but I told the kids we need to make sure we start with a small strike zone and the more strikes we get, the further we expand the strike zone. I liked what I saw today,” Turner said. “The kids did well, they took what I asked them to do and applied it to the game.”
Ross returns to action Wednesday at home against Port Clinton.