Usually come playoff time, the team with the most experience and veteran leadership is going to be a tough out.
Archbishop Hannan coach Becky Lambert discovered she has had to take a different approach.
Her young team may just not know any better.
At 23-6 through Saturday and ranked fourth in the latest Class 2A power rankings headed into the last week of the regular season, the Hawks have only three seniors and have relied on a bevy of sophomores and freshmen.
“As a coach, it has been frustrating at times,” Lambert said. “We are young, but we are continuing to gain more and more experience. I guess as a coach I worry about my team’s intensity at times. But I have to realize that may happen with how young this team really is.”
While Lambert may not like her team’s intensity at times, she cannot say good enough things about its hitting. A team that can hit throughout the lineup, Hannan has an impressive .413 team batting average. Hannan is led by junior Jensen Volz’s .532 average. Only two of the nine starters for Hannan are hitting below. 400.
“There is no easy out in our lineup,” Lambert said. “We have a lineup where our eight-hole hitter (Lauren Wegener) is hitting over .400. How many teams in the state can say that? If someone doesn’t get a hit, this team doesn’t get down because, nine times out of 10, the hitter behind them is going to get a hit. They just keep going and going.”
The table-setter for the Hawks is sophomore shortstop Lindsey Osbon, who is hitting .404 and leads the team in doubles.
“Our ultimate goal is to play for and win a state championship,” she said. “We continue to put the work in each and every day, and we believe we are capable of beating anyone. That is why you come and play softball at Archbishop Hannan.
“Being the leadoff hitter on this team is really fun. We are a young team, of course, but there are enough of us that understand what we are trying to do. Add to that we are getting outstanding pitching in the circle with Allie (Hutton) and Jensen Volz.”
Catching the 1-2 pitching duo of Hutton and Volz is another sophomore in Shaye Tredinich. The soft-spoken catcher leads the Hawks with four home runs on the season.
“(Hutton and Volz) have been throwing really well,” she said. “They throw the ball hard and have good movement on all their pitches. I know we are having a blast hitting the ball right now. It is hard to describe, but we just have a lot of fun out there. Softball is supposed to be fun, and it is even more fun when you are hitting the ball like we are doing.”
After not making it to the state tournament in Sulphur last year after three consecutive years of playing for a state championship, Lambert said her young team is more than capable of making a return trip to the tournament.
“We didn’t make it last year, and you could see the disappointment from the entire team,” Lambert said. “That led them to be determined this year to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Every single one of them worked extremely hard this summer and this fall for it to happen. We don’t want to fall short of our goal.
“I would have to say anything short of making the state tournament would be a failed season. I think we are capable of winning a state championship for sure because of how well we hit the ball. I believe there is no team we can’t hit the ball against. If our pitching is good enough, and we hit our spots and our locations, we can play with anyone.”