Sitting at home while another team took the throne of Nevada prep softball has left the Cougs even more determined to restore its reign this spring.
“It’s the same goal every year: to qualify for regionals, try to win a league title and try to win a state title,” Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said. “That’s the way we go into every season. We always preach that anybody can be beaten on any given day and last year we did very well during the regular season then we got into regionals and we got beat twice. We talk about that quite often. The seniors and the returners didn’t like the taste in their mouth after last year, so I hope they’re a little hungrier this year.”
In order to go about meeting its ambitions SSHS will need to fill the large void left by two of its graduated seniors from the past season in catcher Sydney Darby and pitcher Danica Arterburn, last year’s HDL’s Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year respectively.
“Those two players are tough to replace,” Davidson said. “We’ve had Jaci Carlsen, Mallary Darby, and the Colliers. We’ve had Ashley Decker and Karlyn Jones. We’ve always had key players to replace but the team knows that everybody has to step and everybody has to pick up the slack. We just have to move forward and give it 100 percent on every single pitch of every single game and never, ever give up.”
There are a number of players roaming the diamond for the Purple and White that could help ease the transition and guide the Cougars’ pursuit of a fourth state championship in six years.
Spanish Springs has three returners who earned first-team HDL honors a year ago, led by senior outfielder Bella Rovens, who had a team-high .533 batting average on the season to go along with 48 runs. The Cougars other first-teamers, junior infielder Brette Lawrence (.412 BA, 25 runs, 24 RBI) and sophomore utility player Myrissa Prince (.435 BA, 25 RBI, 21 runs), will also look to be big contributors.
Other players that could be key for the Cougs include senior infielder Dani Smith, who batted .421 with 28 runs and 24 RBI, and sophomore infielder Kayla Arterburn (.400 BA, 27 runs, 15 RBI), both second-team honorees last season. Sophomore Alyx Penrod, an HDL honorable mention, may also play a significant role for Spanish Springs. Despite boasting a roster littered with capable talent, Davidson said he will not be looking for any one individual for the team to depend on.
“We really don’t approach the season that way. We just approach it as everybody is going to contribute and everybody is going to do what is asked of them when called upon, whether they’re a starter or a reserve,” he said. “I don’t really single out people and say they’re going to do this or that. It’s just always been and always will be a total team effort here at Spanish Springs as long as I’m the coach.”
With the season still young and spots still up for grabs, Davidson said his players have plenty of openings to prove themselves and earn playing time.
“Being early in the season the team knows there’s an opportunity for every player to get a shot,” Davidson said. “There are no set positions or roster spots right now. How they perform will determine how we settle on the starting lineup and what our pitching rotation will be.”
Those chances will begin with a scrimmage against Galena today at 3:15 p.m. Spanish Springs will then travel to Sacramento to take part in the Victory Pre-Season Tournament hosted by Elk Grove High School. The Cougars start the tournament off with a game against Righetti (Santa Maria, Calif.) on Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. Play continues on Friday evening with Spanish Springs facing off against Oakmont (Roseville, Calif.) at 5 p.m. before squaring off with Reed at 6:45 p.m. Consolation play is held on Saturday.
Spanish Springs opens league play March 15th, fittingly at Bishop Manogue, one of the teams that helped end its season last year, followed by Damonte Ranch on March 17th, the other team to put the nail in the Cougars’ coffin.