'Do what's best for the team': Blue Jay softball getting after it
The Jamestown High School softball team began practices last week.
JAMESTOWN — Since the 2023 prep softball season kicked off last week, Jamestown High School head coach Mike Soulis has had to talk to multiple athletes about the possibility of moving positions.
So far, every conversation has ended the same way.
"Without hesitation, without question, without anything, they've said, that, yes, they'll move," Soulis said. "The nice thing about our group right now is that they all share the let's-do-what's-best-for-the-team mentality."
If Soulis' athletes keep doing "what's best for the team," it'll be a fun season down at Trapper Field.
The Blue Jays began practices last week and are set to open up the season on April 4 with a nonconference game against Dickinson. First pitch for the double-header is 4:30 p.m. at Trapper Field.
Soulis and his crew are coming off a fourth-place finish at the 2022 Class A State Tournament. Jamestown has been to the last two state tournaments and has made appearances since the program's inception back in 2012.
"We want better results than last year," Soulis said. "Obviously the goal is to make the state tournament but we want to get wins those three days to earn the ultimate reward for our season. We're looking forward to the seniors leading us and then the underclassmen leading in their own way,"
The Blue Jays lost all-state catcher Jenna Fischer, 2021 and 2022 leadoff-hitter Alyssa Gange, shortstop Katie Trumbauer and outfielder Abbie Banet to graduation. The squad returns seniors Katie Falk, Ella Falk, Jada Walter and Rylee Joseph.
"You are always going to lose someone who is valuable and we lost four of them who contributed to our program and we've got to try and replace that," Soulis said. "Obviously if you lose an all-state catcher, that's a tough one but Ella Falk, who showed herself to be a very good outfielder last year, agreed to move into that position to better our team. She's going to give us her best and her best is pretty good."
Falk is not a newbie to the catcher's world.
"She's done it in the summer and a couple of times last year, we just need to rep her with some different situations and bring her up to speed," Soulis said. "As a catcher, you are involved in every play so it's going to take some more reps to get her comfortable but ability-wise, we're very comfortable with where she's at."
Falk's cousin, Katie, will return for her third go-around with the Blue Jays. Last season, she allowed 133 hits and 70 runs — 55 earned — across her 102 innings pitched. In her 19 games played, she walked 19 batters and recorded 100 Ks. By the end of her junior season, her ERA read 3.762.
Last fall, Katie committed to play collegiate softball at the University of Mary and currently serves as the fastpitch pitching trainer at Jamestown's indoor batting cage, The Cage.
"She's gotten stronger, she's gotten more reps, she's driven, and she commits to it," Soulis said of Katie. "She's at TRAC hitting off the tee, she's pitching during the winter months, she's in the weight room — she's doing whatever she can to get better.
"Watching her and Makenna (Nold) and Leah Trumbauer go these first couple of days of practice has got us really excited," he said.
Nold, a junior, played 17 games for the Blue Jays last spring. The hurler pitched 91 innings during which time she allowed 78 hits and 58 runs. As a sophomore, she retired 122 batters and went 8-4 on the mound. At the end of her season, Nold's ERA was 2.846.
"She's gotten stronger and is improving her skills," Soulis said.
Trumbauer, a sophomore, played three games for the 2022 Blue Jay varsity squad. During her freshman season, Trumbauer pitched two innings in the team's tilt against Dickinson. She allowed three hits, one run and walked two. Trumbauer's ERA was 3.500.
As for the other seven spots out on the field, the Jays have many of the pieces from their 2022 state tournament team back to fill in.
Joseph, a University of Jamestown softball commit, will be back covering second base and Walter will be over at third. Graves and Torrie Mack, juniors and pinch-hitters for the Jays at different times last season, are also returning with unselfish and can-do attitudes.
"Knowing that we have a large nucleus of our team from last year back, it's a confidence thing," Soulis said. "A lot of the girls who didn't get to play much last year are stepping up and their confidence is up. We're not overconfident but we are comfortable with where we are at.
"Between us pushing them as coaches and them pushing themselves, we won't become complacent," he said. "I am looking forward to some awesome things this spring — assuming we get outside."