Pine River girls hoping to have another strong season
LEROY — Miranda Nelson is coming off a strong 2010 spring season but is anxious to show what she can do when another softball season unfolds.
A three-sport athlete, Nelson went right from volleyball into basketball and then switched gears in March into softball. She’ll be the Bucks’ No. 1 pitcher again this season.
‘We had about three days off,” Nelson said. “Last year was very fun. We knew we had a good team last year. We had almost all of our infield back from the year before. We started from the get-go.”
Nelson helped the Bucks go to the quarterfinals last season.
“I should be better this year,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll be that much faster. But I’ll know what to do to what batter and to what situation we’re in without having to look at our coach.”
Jamie Justin was Pine River’s second pitcher but had foot surgery so her return status is unknown.
Nelson batted .422 last year and would like to get higher.
“I’ll have to concentrate more on hitting in practice,” she said.
The Bucks “are young,” Nelson said. “We have a ton of potential. We’re looking solid. I think we’ll start out strong. The younger girls have been on the varsity team.”
Another key senior back is center fielder Danielle Nixon, who will be a fourth-year varsity player.
“Last year, we had a really good season, and had a good team and went really far again,” she said. “Hopefully, we can stay on track and keep it going. We’ll need a couple of games to figure out where everyone is going to go and putting the younger girls where we think they can help us out.”
Nixon batted in the .300s last season.
“My goal this year is definitely to get a higher batting average,” Nixon said. “I need to be a smart hitter and place the softball where I want it.”
Nixon bats left and will be a leadoff hitter again.
“My job is to get on,” she said. “I think we should be a really good team. We have some good seniors out there.I know that the players from last year are going to step up. We have a lot of potential.”
Pine River had a scrimmage last Friday at Cadillac prior to its first schedule game at Morley Stanwood on Tuesday. The Bucks are scheduled to be at Beaverton on Saturday. Home games last Thursday were postponed for weather reasons.
The scrimmage “was good,” said PR coach Shawn Ruppert. “It’s nice to get outside at the field and see someone else.”
Brett Hastings, a senior center fielder, will be in his third varsity season. He recalls that he was “really happy” last year. He had a strong defensive season. Offensively, he batted .310.
Hastings also plays soccer and basketball. He went to a couple of offseason baseball teams.
This year’s team “will be really strong,” Hastings said. “We have a few young guys. They should be be able to fill in well.”
Two-time defending champion Beal City is expected to be the league favorite.