Opening day at BHS
When the Baldwin High School softball team takes the field this afternoon, fans might notice familiar faces but something will be different.
For the first time in several years, the Bulldogs will look a lot closer to the school color - purple. The old uniforms have been fading from their original purple color to something near a blue hue. Now the Bulldogs will be sporting shiny, new jerseys.
"We will have new uniforms," coach Ginny Honomichl said. "We will be sporting the new tops. It will be neat to look at us in something other than what we've been wearing for eight years. Those have faded to a blue color, but these will be purple."
The Bulldogs begin their season at 4:30 p.m. today as they host a doubleheader against Frontier League opponent De Soto. BHS is coming off a year in which it finished with a record of 12-7.
"Well, our first game has definitely came really quickly," sophomore MacKenzie Flory said. "It's been hard because we haven't been outside on the fields for that long. We still have some improving to do, but I think that for the most part we are ready. We don't have much choice."
Honomichl and her players both agree that finding nice weather and dry fields have been few and far between during the month of March. The Bulldogs did practice outdoors Monday and Tuesday in preparation for today's doubleheader.
The transition from practicing in the BHS gymnasium was a bit rough on the Bulldogs at first, but Honomichl hopes the time outside earlier in the week will help her team when the first pitch is thrown today.
"This makes a huge difference," Honomichl said of practicing outdoors Tuesday. "Everything looks a whole lot bigger. We realize how much further we have to throw the ball and if the throw doesn't go there then it rolls way out in the outfield. Being outside has been wonderful.
"We do realize that everyone in this area has been as wet and cold as we have been," she said. "Hopefully, our core of people that are returning will be strong enough to make up for that lack of total team practice."
Another challenge has been having the entire team at practice. Some team members traveled to Costa Rica earlier in the month with classmates from the BHS Spanish classes. The entire team of Bulldogs has been here this week, which has helped Honomichl organize her roster.
"They've been making great progress," she said. "We've had to try some new people at some new spots and have interchangeable parts without losing a lot by doing that. It's been really nice to have the full squad for two days in a row. That's pretty exciting."
When the action does begin today, BHS will be fortunate to have the majority of its team returning from a year ago. Some of those returners in the infield are junior Alex Zordel (third base), junior Tracie Weege (shortstop) and junior Haley Finucane (second base). Flory is a returning outfielder and junior Sara Johnson saw some time at catcher for the Bulldogs.
Another starter returning is senior Callie Craig, the Bulldogs' leading pitcher since she's entered high school. She is the lone senior on the team.
"She is a two-time all-state pitcher who can throw the pitch she is supposed to pitch and where she is supposed to pitch it," Honomichl said. "That makes that job a whole lot easier for a catcher. You call it and she puts it there. I am so glad she is on our team and not on their team. Being our only senior, it's the right one to have and the right position for her to be in. As she goes, so does our team."
Flory said the experience returning to the squad this season should benefit the Bulldogs and hopefully lead to success.
"I think that it helps having these girls return," Flory said. "We've played together before, so we're comfortable with each other and we are able to gel. The majority of us have a good amount of experience, which also helps.
"I think that we should do well," she said. "We're all hoping we can have just as good of a season as we had last year. Hopefully, we can do even better."
Baldwin will host De Soto today and Ottawa on Tuesday. Both doubleheaders begin at 4:30 p.m. at the BHS ball fields.
"It will be nice to be at home and have our students come out and support us," Honomichl said. "Hopefully, we will have our group along the fence this year, too. We really want to play and see what happens."