Upper Perk's Jess Crilley chases a fly ball during play against Boyertown last Wednesday in the first home game of the season.
The Upper Perkiomen High School softball team may be largely young and untested, but with a new coaching staff and a renewed vigor for program building this year, the team has something to prove.
The program has gone through three head coaches in the last four years. Now Walt Schmidt and Dennis Frank, who have volunteered with the team in past years, have stepped up as associate head coaches and have big plans for restoring the program to a competitive edge in the PAC-10.
Schmidt and Frank plan to strengthen the team both by renewing community support for the entire softball program in the valley and by working closely with the current roster to help players develop their talent individually and mature into a more cohesive team.
“The entire team has a strong work ethic and their goal is to mature into competitive performers who can compete in the PAC-10,” Schmidt said in the team’s annual outlook statement. “In addition to these immediate goals, efforts are underway to address and promote growth in the entire 7-12 grade softball program at Upper Perkiomen.”
With a team made up largely of underclassmen, the coaches will be able to work with many of the same players well beyond this season.
Right now the focus is primarily on fundamentals, Schmidt said after the home opener against Boyertown March 27. The team was missing key starters in the 16-0 loss to Boyertown.
The team faced some excellent hitting from the Bears during the game, with Boyertown hitters managing to find the gaps in the outfield numerous times.
Inconsistencies on the field also plagued the Indians throughout the contest. While players managed to snag two line drives at first and second base to get outs early on, errors at the same two positions later cost the team outs. Errors at other positions also cost the team key plays.
But junior catcher Heather Smith said the team is working on building communication as well as maturing individually to move past such issues.
“We want to work as a team at getting better, trusting each other, meshing more,” Smith said.
And while working with the new coaching staff has been challenging at times, junior pitcher and second baseman Meagan Quinn said the coaches are putting a lot of effort into the same goals the players have, like improving the team on and off the field.
“They’re good coaches,” Quinn said. “They work really hard and do care a lot about the game.”
The team still has a lot of work ahead of them. But as the season goes on and the team dynamic builds amongst the players and coaches, the Lady Indians will be taking their first steps toward proving themselves as PAC-10 competitors.