East Hardy Softball Preview

As of press time, high school springs sports events and practices had been postponed until April 10. That announcement came as the finishing touches were being put on the Spring Sports preview. We have decided publish these previews in order to highlight Hardy County’s high school athletes, should no opportunity exist later.

East Hardy Softball is a team full of energy and has rejuvenated the determination and passion to create victories this season growing stronger from each play and circumstance along the path to Charleston.

Having the school closures due to the Covid-19 virus, dealing with the absence of practices and games has been devastating and yet the team is ready to accept the challenge moving forward hoping to play once again.

“Talking with them…has been heartbreaking. I still don’t think I’ve fully processed everything. My heart breaks for our seniors. They have worked so hard throughout their careers and were excited for a great season. We are all still remaining optimistic and praying that we will be on the field soon. Even if it’s a shortened season, we will still get to do what we love together,” East Hardy Softball fifth-year head coach Ashley Taylor stated.

The Cougars look to improve on a 9-9 record from last season.

East Hardy is led by seniors Madison Strawderman (SS), Chelsea Keller (DP/1B), Rebecca Whetzel (1B/3B) and Emily Yates (CF/LF).

Strawderman and Yates are aggressive in fielding the ball, diving to make plays in the dirt or outfield, or even leaping for it.

Their dynamic style of play ignites an enthusiastic spark for the team helping change the momentum of a game.

Strawderman was selected to the Class A All-State Special Honorable Mention team last season and joined Riggle on the All-Potomac Valley Conference team.

Keller and Whetzel are great at making solid catches and know how to create the tags for outs.

At the plate, these seniors have been very patient and can deliver hits anywhere which gives the Cougars an opportunity to score at any moment.

East Hardy junior Perry Whetzel was the primary pitcher last season and has proven to be sharp in the circle and can play in various positions on the field to help the team’s success when not pitching as there are now five quality arms ready to deal strikes.

East Hardy junior Erin Riggle has been one of the most versatile players whether playing infield, outfield, baserunning or notching quality time pitching which enables her to be one of the top utility players with a solid batting power to compliment the rest.

The four other pitchers and utility players will be sophomore Madison Heishman and freshmen Gabreanna Miller, Tori Pratt and Autumn Crites.

Heishman was a good outfielder last year and could make the diving

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I don’t tell the girls to take a specific amount of swings, but it is important for them to be loose and make sure they are training their hands to go to the ball. It’s very important to for the girls to watch the picture. They should be watching her windup to see if there are any indications to a specific pitch that is going to be thrown and to see if the pitcher has a specific sequence of pitches she typically uses. This helps our hitter anticipate what they may see when they’re in the box.