MOUNT VERNON — Nothing is written in stone for 2012. Starting with a new coach, the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets softball team will have a different look and a different attitude.
Mike Marcum, who replaces longtime coach Carisa Lanning, gave the girls their uniforms last week. Positions, however, are a different story. Many of those decisions are being made as the team is going through preseason scrimmages.
“Our girls will have to earn a spot throughout the year,” said Marcum. “We’re loaded with seniors. Some of them played on varsity last year. Some of them were on jayvee and are now on varsity. It’s going to be a real dogfight. We also have two juniors and a sophomore who can pull their weight, too. It’s going to be interesting.”
On the field, the changes start in the circle — at least philosophically. Last year, pitcher Brittani Roden filled the starting role admirably, hurling 100 innings, and compiling a 9-6 record and a 3.78 ERA with 61 strikeouts in the regular season. This year, she will have plenty of help. Marcum intends to use Molly Chacey, who only threw a couple of innings in 2011.
“We don’t have to ride that one horse all the time,” said Marcum. “My plan, going into this thing, is shared time. My thing is that we play 27 games and the tournament riding that one horse. We only had one, but we’ve never been deep in pitching.”
Roden and Chacey may not be the only ones to toe the pitching rubber for the Yellow Jackets in 2011, but Marcum has to be careful not to wear out his kids.
“We’ve never been blessed with five or six pitchers in the program,” said Marcum. “To keep kids throwing — and that makes them better, too — I’m almost forced to split them up and keep them throwing. But, when it gets down to tournament time, they’re all exhausted because they’ve been throwing every game. It’s a double-edged sword.”
There will still be a touch of the familiar. Former coach Lanning still visits the team and helps out. Also, for a few select games this season, the varsity will don throwback uniforms.
“We were cleaning out the storage room and we found these,” said Marcum. “I’m not sure when (Mount Vernon assistant coach) Lynn Apple said they were last worn, but its been some time. I thought it would be fun for the varsity to do that and it would be a great thing for ‘Ap,’ who has given so much to the school.”
Junior Jess Wellman (.500, four homers, 22 RBI, .942 fielding pct.) played first and third in 2011, where she sported a .788 slugging percentage to lead the Jackets. She is expected to hold down one of the corners. Pencil in senior Keli Thompson (.419) at second base. The slick-fielding Thompson, who only had one error in 2011, is expected to provide leadership on the field.