Throughout the year, the Wellsboro Lady Hornets softball team has been raising money in order to travel to Orlando, FLa. to participate in spring training at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Lady Hornets successfully raised nearly $9,000 through eight separate fundraisers to get a chance to face some new competition in the 2020 preseason.
Last August the team presented the idea to the Wellsboro school board and were approved and began their fundraising. They were able to meet their fundraising goals and made the trip to Florida this past week.
The Lady Hornets hit the field everyday between 6:30 and 7 a.m. and practiced until nearly 1 p.m. in the afternoon during their trip.
They also got the chance to see some new competition, and were able to compete at a high level with top-notch competition.
“We got to play three innings of kind of straight-up softball and then the last four innings we moved people around giving different looks at different positions,” coach Ronald Brought said. “We had a freshman pitcher join us on the trip that threw six innings over two game and she was not out of her league in any capacity.”
The Lady Hornets were able to get a look at some younger players in game situations and Wellsboro was pleasantly surprised with some of the performances they saw over the week.
The Hornets received a lot of strong contributions throughout the trip and saw some of their top players play well, but also got a chance to see how some of the younger players would respond in a game situation. “Rylie Boyce, the freshman pitcher made a pretty good statement for herself,” assistant coach Steve Adams said.
With the trip being mostly about getting some game experience before the season began, the Lady Hornets also got the chance to build some chemistry going into the 2020 season which can be invaluable for a team trying to make it to the next level of play.
“That was really one of the key components to this,” coach Brought said. “The girls roomed together, they didn’t go and stay with their parents, they would all run together and we were all on the field together from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. everyday. It was truly a tremendous amount of time spent together.”
With the Hornets getting a look at some of the up and coming players that will make an impact on the 2020 softball season, they still will look to their senior and junior class to lead the way this season.
Cathryn Brought was a major asset on the mound for the Hornets last season and is expected to have a big year not only pitching, but also at the plate.
Brought was a 10-game winner last season on the mound for the Lady Hornets last season, ending with a sub-four ERA on the year. Brought was also a force behind the plate, batting .290, with 18 hits and two homeruns for the Lady Hornets in 2019.
“She’s our number one pitcher,” coach Brought said. “She’s going to be on the mound anytime we face the tougher competition.” The Hornets will look to Brought in big-game situations, but will also try to give her as much rest as they can when the opportunities arise.
The Lady Hornets are extremely excited about the pitching staff coming into the season and believe they have one of, if not the best pitching staff in the NTL.
“Brought is either the best, or in the conversation for the best pitcher in all of the NTL. Everything starts on the mound when it comes to competing for a NTL title,” coach Brought said.
“If we can get a lead or play a team that we should be able to get a win against, we are going to try and utilize other pitchers,” coach Brought said.
With Brought on the mound, another senior who is poised for a strong season is Ryann Adams who has been a mainstay in the Hornets lineup batting in the lead-off position for the past three seasons.
Adams batted .318 in 2019 with 21 hits and 11 RBIs and her production out of the top of the batting order has been pivotal for the Hornets throughout the past few seasons, but has made an even bigger impact with her defense from the second base position.
“Ryann Adams is probably the best second baseman in the league. She has an excellent glove, she’s great at covering the whole right side of the infield and she knows where she needs to be,” coach Brought said.
With Adams and Brought being looked at as the senior leaders on the team, the Lady Hornets have a pair of juniors who are coming off a strong season.
Jenna Boyce and Kerrah Clymer both had a huge 2019 season and Boyce batted .368 with 25 hits, 17 RBIs, 22 runs scored, four home runs and one of the strongest area athletes out of the shortstop position and Clymer also batted over .300 with 20 hits, 23 RBIs and five home runs.
With so much returning fire-power and the ability to team-build in a way most teams don’t get the opportunity to, the Lady Hornets are looking to capitalize and put together a strong 2020 season.
“I don’t see why we can’t win the NTL,” coach Brought said. “Central Columbia was one of the best teams in the district last season and they had a left-hander who was the real deal and was throwing a really great game. Cathryn went inning for inning against her and we took them to extra innings. I mean you never want to say a loss is a good loss, but the girls played extremely well.”
With the postponement of the NTL spring sports season, the Lady Hornets know that these two weeks of not playing can either make or break them.
“We are just encouraging the girls to stay busy, this isn’t time off because they will regress. We have a tremendous amount of momentum built up and you put all that time into such a short period down in Florida that we’re going to rely upon them to kind of be self-motivated,” coach Brought said.
The NTL spring sport season is scheduled to return by Monday, March 30.