Camp Lejeune, NC | February 28, 2019
Lejeune High School softball has big aspirations going into the spring season. Senior Natalia Gonzalez is optimistic about her team finding success within the Coastal 8 Conference.
“I would be happy to win the conference championship,” Gonzalez said. “I would be happy not just for the girls but for the team. We need something like that, and last year we won our first game in a long time. If we can win a handful of games and make the playoffs, it would be really cool. Lejeune High School is a small school, so with a sport like softball [winning would mean a lot].”
The Devil Pups went 1-17 last season, including 0-14 in the Coastal 8. They hope to change their fortunes in 2019 by working on the fundamentals.
“We are working on our basic skills like batting, bunting and having the right grip when throwing,” Gonzalez said. “I think this season we will be a lot stronger because we have a lot of girls that are really motivated. They are mostly new, which helps us.”
Shannon White is Lejeune High’s new softball coach for the 2019 season.
“Coach White is full energy and spunky, which I love,” Gonzalez said. “I love it, and it really motivates us on the team. We are focused on the bunting and slapping [compared to playing long ball]. We are going to give the other teams a run for their money.”
White played softball in high school and college, and has nine years of coaching experience.
“We are working a lot both indoors and outdoors, doing a lot drills,” White said. “We are working on [mainly] fielding and throwing. We haven’t done a lot with hitting because our goal is on defense. We know that it is important to keep runs from scoring.”
White said she’s going to rely on seniors such as Gonzalez and Jennifer Watson for leadership.
“We have some leaders that are popping up on the team,” White said. “We are seeing who has character, integrity and a [strong] work ethic. Our seniors are great leaders who are there helping the [younger] kids grow.”
Watson has been at Lejeune High for the past 2 1/2 years. She said she wants to see the younger players grow and learn from the upperclassmen.
“We are practicing a lot,” Watson said. “I am looking forward to getting some wins. Even if we don’t win, it is about being successful and growing as a team. As an elder figure, I want the younger players to be encouraged and that they have a place on the team.”
White expects great things from sophomore pitcher Brooke Roberts.
“Our team is becoming strong this season so we can win games,” Roberts said. “I am practicing every day, working on my snaps and [throwing]. We are running a lot during practice. There is also a lot of fast drills, pitching the ball quickly.”
Opening day for the Devil Pups is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday at North Duplin High School in Calypso.