Serra softball team hopes fewer mental errors mean more wins
One thing quickly jumps out when looking back at Serra Catholic's 2012 softball season. And Mike Elko doesn't need to be reminded about what it is.
“We would tend to have games when we would collapse,” Elko said.
Actually, it worked both ways for Serra last year; the Eagles made their first playoff appearance in three years but bowed out with a 10-0 loss.
Eleven of Serra's 19 games resulted in a 10-run rule: six wins (15-0, 21-2, 19-3, 28-0, 16-5, 18-3) and five losses (14-3, 15-0, 14-2, 17-3, 10-0.) Elko knows that has to change this year if they want any chance of claiming a Section 2-A title.
“We are really working on the mental part of the game this year because that is why we would collapse,” Elko said. “One thing would go wrong, and that's all it would take.”
So far so good for the Eagles. They opened up with a 15-0, 3-inning win over Northgate last week before having a week's worth of games postponed because of inclement weather.
Serra will resume action Tuesday at Stephen Barry Field with a section game against Carmichaels, the team that eliminated the Lady Eagles from the playoffs last year.
“I really like the team this year,” said Elko, who has a 25-25 record in three years. “We should make the playoffs again this year. I am extremely confident — almost 100-percent confident — that we will make the playoffs this year.”
To do that, Elko is going rely on a pair of pitchers: junior Nicole Jezerski and freshman Samantha Andrekanic. Elko said he will use both pitchers equally.
“I know situations in which I am going to throw one pitcher against a certain team,” Elko said. “They are both so even that I can afford to do something like that.”
Elko is going to need two pitchers — especially over the next two weeks with Serra having seven games scheduled over a 10-day span.
“We are going to know right away where we stand,” Elko said. “It is a very important stretch early in the season.”
Serra lost five seniors from last year's 8-9 team but returns a core group led by Haley Havrilla. Havrilla is a three-year starter who hit more than .400 the past two years.
Sophomore Allie Taylor returns to play third base after hitting .500 with two homers and 25 RBI. Junior first baseman Amy McNeil hit three home runs last year.
“The difference between this year and some other years is that the kids now know my systems and get along very well,” Elko said. “You know how other teams might have conflicts with girls on the team; we don't have that. We all get along, and there is no issue. Everybody knows their role on the team, and some know they are going to play more than others.”
Elko's lineup also will have Jezerski and Andrekanic playing second base when the other is pitching along with Morgan Willaman in center field and Anna Quattrone at shortstop.
“I am doing more teaching this year than the past but I am very happy with this lineup,” Elko said.
Powerhouse Chartiers-Houston moved up to Class AA this year, allowing Serra a chance to grab its first section title since 2009. The Eagles likely will battle Carmichaels and Frazier for the title.
“We need to win the close games that we tend to lose against teams like Frazier,” Elko said. “That is something we need to do this year.”