By KEVIN HARRIS
JEFFERSONVILLE - Jeffersonville head coach Mike Coons likes the experienced players and the talented underclassmen he has inherited in his first season at the Red Devil helm.
Now, it is just a matter of instilling confidence into a team that is coming off a 7-9 record last season that lost 11-0 to Jennings County in the first round of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional.
“They’ve got to believe in themselves,” said Coons, who replaces former New Albany standout and ex-University of Louisville player Chelsea Jordan. “We have an experienced team. I’ve been preaching to them about changing the mentality of Jeff softball. We’re trying to teach the girls confidence and how to win games.
“If we can keep playing the way we can, we can compete with anybody.”
The Red Devils (4-4) have shown in a few games this season they have improved and are a more-confident bunch. They have posted victories over two Louisville teams in Manual (6-5) and Assumption (13-6). Jeff also defeated a Fishers squad 5-3 on April 1 that won a Class 4A sectional title last season.
Coons thinks if Jeff is to continue to be a competitive squad, it must be sound defensively. He says he does not have a true No. 1 pitcher in his rotation, so Red Devil fielders must make the plays to help keep Jeff in games.
“My goals and expectations are to be a solid defensive team (by season’s end) because we don’t have a stellar pitching staff,” Coons said. “We can be explosive and aggressive on offense.”
Coons is relying on the four seniors on his roster to provide leadership. The seniors are outfielder Amy Steinmetz, pitcher and first baseman Jennah Tincher, first baseman Kaylee Strong and outfielder Juliette Schuur.
The junior class also is expected to make contributions in second baseman and shortstop Faith Denig, third baseman Lindsey Nelson, pitcher and third baseman Mackenzie Brockwell and outfielder Meghan Lay.
Coons has a couple of talented sophomores on his roster in pitcher and first baseman Lizzy Coons, who is his daughter, and catcher Casey Schweitzer. Both players made the all-Hoosier Hills Conference team last season. Two other Red Devils who are expected to be key players the rest of the season are sophomore outfielder Cassidy Bott and freshman shortstop Nan Garcia.
Mike Coons has one word to describe Jeff’s schedule – “tough.”
The Red Devils will have games next week against HHC foes Floyd Central and Class 4A No. 5 Bedford North Lawrence. They will host archrival and conference foe New Albany on Monday, April 24. After that, Jeff will face formidable opponents in Silver Creek, Louisville Mercy and Louisville Male.
The Jeff head coach thinks Floyd Central is the team to beat in the HHC Tournament and the Class 4A Floyd Central Sectional.