After accumulating a winning record last season, the Russellville Indians softball team is preparing for the upcoming season with hopes to go even further.
The Indians finished last season with a 16-8 record after a 11-1 loss to eventual district champion Warsaw in the semifinals of the Class 2 District 9 Tournament.
Head coach Lucas Branson said the team has goals of competing and getting better everyday to put themselves in a position to challenge for a district championship.
"I believe our girls are hungry to get on the field and show what they are capable of," Branson said.
After a successful season last year, Branson said to build off that success, the team has to take a step forward with its mental ability to handle adversity and play in the moment.
"Simply focus on the next pitch and not worry about the previous play or at-bat," Branson said. "Our girls have to continue to gain confidence in their own ability and push themselves to get out of their comfort zone and play as hard as they can everyday, whether it is practice or a game. I fully expect and know they are capable of making a run at a district championship and advancing into the postseason."
Pitching and defense are some of the skills the team has been working on.
"We are working to continue to be a strong defensive team and we expect to have solid pitching so anytime we can put that combination together, it will give us a chance to play at a high level," Branson said.
Branson said he likes the great attitudes and effort he has seen from his players in practices.
"That will go a long way in establishing the determination necessary for us to try to win every pitch and every inning," Branson said.
The team will have seven returning starters this season. The team will also have some added depth — Russellville will be co-oping with Calvery Lutheran and four players will join the Indians squad.
"We have some talented upperclassmen, and this year, we are in a partnership co-op with Calvary Lutheran," Branson said. "The seniors that will be expected to provide leadership are Reagan Jenkins, Kalyn Smith, Anna Zimmerman, Clare Hart and Emily Hauck. We have seven returning starters from last season and the addition of four players in the Calvary Lutheran co-op add depth to what we have and will create more competition in practice for playing time."
Branson said he wants to see the team continue to improve every day and that one of the main areas the team is working on is how players approach their at-bats while at the plate.
"We want our players to have an aggressive with discipline mindset and be ready to attack the first pitch they see in their best hitting zone," Branson said.
The players are excited to have the opportunity to compete and play as a team, Branson said.
"We all know there are a lot of things going on in the country and world and that can be a distraction," Branson said. "So we are trying to eliminate that when we step on the field and just have fun and compete to the best of our ability."
Russellville softball schedule
Aug. 22 - 10 a.m., Jamboree at California
Aug. 29 - TBA, at New Haven Tournament,
Aug. 31 - 5 p.m., at Jamestown
Sept. 1 - 5 p.m., vs. Harrisburg
Sept. 3 - 5 p.m., at California
Sept. 8 - 5 p.m., vs. Vienna
Sept. 9 - 5 p.m., at Dixon
Sept. 10 - 5 p.m., at New Bloomfield
Sept. 14 - 5 p.m., vs. Versailles
Sept. 15 - 5 p.m., at St. Elizabeth
Sept. 16 - 5 p.m., vs. Fayette
Sept. 17 - 5 p.m., vs. Tuscumbia
Sept. 18 - TBA, at Owensville Tournament
Sept. 21 - 5 p.m., vs. Pilot Grove
Sept. 26 - TBA, at AA Softball Tournament at Russellville/Eugene
Sept. 29 - 5 p.m., at Linn
Oct. 5 - 5 p.m., vs. South Callaway
Oct. 6 - 5 p.m., vs. Eldon
Oct. 8 - 5 p.m., at Fatima
Oct. 12 - 5 p.m., at Eugene
Oct. 14-17 - TBA, District Tournament at TBA