By Michael Kinney, Contributing Writer
The Mustang softball team kicked off its season Monday with a five-hour practice. With more than a dozen freshmen filling up the roster, coach Jaime Roberts needs every second to get them ready for the upcoming season.
“When you add 13 freshmen to your team, they just don’t know all the stuff that we’ve been doing,” Roberts said. “We’re just trying to get them to feel welcome, and just trying to go over the basics, to be honest.”
The Mustang coaching staff doesn’t expect the young Broncos to look like they are All-State players in this first week of practice. She wants them to focus on being teammates.
“I don’t expect us to be perfect at the beginning, but perfect together,” Roberts said.” As far as that, what I’m trying to say about that is we’re bringing our best attitudes, and a lot of energy to every game, and playing with each other, for each other, and representing for our town. That’s the biggest thing I’d like to see. Not so much skill level stuff as far as our first scrimmage, but just really, they’re all talented players, and all have different tangibles that are going make this a high-quality team.
“The first week, I just want to see them just giving the maximum effort, and having the best attitude they can,” Roberts continued, “and just playing for each other, and excited for the season.”
In the first few days of practice, Roberts’ greatest ally has been her patience as she and her staff teach the players what they want from them.
“It takes some patience, but I know they’ll get it. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s part of it,” Roberts said. “Those freshmen bring a lot of vibrance and energy too, as far as they’re excited to be out there. They’re a little shy, but they also have a lot of energy and excitement to be part of this high school program.”
Yet, Roberts says it won’t take too long to this thus inexperienced group to get them to understand what the MHS program is all about.
“I would say after about two weeks, they’re going know everyone’s names, and they’re going know everybody’s signs,” Roberts said. “We have some personal signs that each one of us do now, and I’m trying to get them just to open up to each other, because they all play on different travel ball organizations in the summer. We just try to get them to come together these couple weeks before we have to start facing up against competition in the other dugout.”
But the Broncos first opponent they have to conquer is the heat. With temperatures hovering in the mid 90’s, many of Roberts’ young squad are getting their first taste of being a varsity athlete in Oklahoma.
“It’s just real important to get them acclimated to the heat, and just build on some fundamentals,” Roberts said. “Pretty much, we’ve been going through all the fundamentals, and getting them acclimated to the heat, and getting to know one another.”
With the heat only getting worse as the summer progresses, Mustang is taking precautions.
“Well, ideally we were trying to beat the heat, but even at 9 in the morning…We’ve been getting out there early, but man, it’s still been…It can be tough,” Roberts said. “We’re just trying to stay hydrated, and get out there and do what we can, and utilize our nice indoor facilities as well.”