Softball team hopes to recapture success of early season

By Mikenna Barcelona, Staff Writer

Spring is here, and as the weather warms up, Newman’s softball season is in full swing. 

The Jets, who started play on Feb. 1, have an overall record so far this season of 7-11, and Andrea Gustafson, who is in her fifth year as head coach, said that during the first couple of weeks of the season, she was feeling pretty good about the team, which was competing and playing with confidence.

But lately, something is a little off. 

“For whatever reason, we haven’t been doing that the past couple weeks,” she said. “So we need to find out why and get back to doing the things that made us successful.” ,

Gustafson said she likes members of the team as people. In the past, it has been a struggle to get players into the program who wanted to be good teammates and good people, she said.

That was her first goal this year, and she feels that the team is in a much better place, she said.

“You can’t be successful with people who aren’t good teammates and make excuses for everything,” Gustafson said.

The coach has brought in two new coaching staff members this year. 

Former Newman softball player Mackenzie Anderson is helping out as a graduate assistant. Gustafson said that Anderson was one of the players who came to Newman from a junior college and worked to make herself a better player.

And Howie Smith is the team’s new assistant coach and is doing a great job at helping to change the culture of the program, Gustafson said. In May, he retired from Dodge City Community College after being head coach there for 32 years. 

“It’s been extremely helpful coaching with someone who has coaching experience and has been there and experienced all the different things coaches deal with,” Gustafson said. “He’s been awesome, and I’m so grateful to have him here helping,”

She also named three players who have stood out so far this season. 

Jackie Gold, a senior from Syracuse, Utah, had been pitching well until a minor injury sidelined her for a few weeks. Hayley Bonython, a junior from Adelaide, Australia, “has been swinging the bat well and has consistently made adjustments to continue making solid contact,” she said.

And Danielle Rodriguez, who is a freshman from Santa Clarita, California, has made the most of her chances at second base and has helped make things happen for the team’s offense.

Alex Schreiner, a sophomore from Kingman, said that she is looking forward to making more memories with her team and coaches.

“Our goal is to have a better record than last year as well as make it to the MIAA tournament,” she said.

Gustafson said that the team just needs to work on consistency.

“I would like our kids to learn how to play with confidence and compete on a regular basis,” she said. “We have shown how capable we are when we do those things now. It's a matter of getting them to play like that every time out on the field. That is my goal for the rest of the season. If we can do that, anything can happen.”

PHOTO: Matthew Fowler, A&E Editor