Beacons softball looking to recharge its battery

With the graduation last spring of its main starting pitcher and starting catcher, the Concordia Academy fastpitch softball team begins the season with some untested players in those key roles. Instead of being able to jump right in with an experienced batter, the Beacons need to work new players into those positions.

According to Concordia Academy head coach Gina Tupper, two of the main objectives for early-season workouts involve teaching new pitchers and catchers the art of those positions.

“Training our pitchers to throw well to their targets and to keep the batter off balance with throwing in many change-ups,” said Tupper, who is in her seventh season as Concordia’s head coach.

“Training our catchers to improve their speed of glove-to-glove times to the bases.”

One of the players expected to get some innings in the circle this spring for the Beacons is junior captain Becca Erdman. She played first, third and pitched some last year. She also brings a potent bat to the equation after hitting .382 in 2014.

Joining Erdman in filling the captain roles are seniors Shannon Moore and Kelley Trimble. Moore is a first and second baseman who posted a .935 fielding percentage last season while batting .245 with nine stolen bases.

“Shannon is a consistent all-around player,” Tupper said. “She is smart on the bases and puts the ball in play however we need it. She comes in strong after a winter of lifting and she has also improved her swing.”

Trimble anchors the outfield from her center field position and that will be especially important this season as Tupper searches for players to fill the left and right field spots.

“Trimble plays hitting charts well, has a good read on the ball and is a great leader in the outfield,” Tupper said. “With left and right field varying in players during the season, Trimble will play an important role of keeping the outfield consistent in the way we play the game.”

One reason there are openings in the corner outfield spots is because senior Jillian Bloomer is moving to the infield. She is taking over at shortstop and brings speed and a powerful arm to the position. Offensively, she hit .270 and stole 10 bases last year.

Among the strengths of this year’s team is the continued support that everyone provides. Tupper mentioned this last year and it hasn’t changed any this season.

“There is an atmosphere of support in which players feel comfortable failing without negative responses from teammates,” said Tupper. “They work hard and will grow a lot as a team. This team has excellent attitude and effort.They are a joy to coach.”

Finding and training a new combination of pitchers and catcher(s) is the biggest challenge.

“It is hard to have both new, as there is the battery relationship to build and a lot of skill training for both of these key positions that are involved in every pitch,” Tupper admitted.

Concordia Academy opened the season by playing two of the three games it had on the schedule last week. Its first scheduled game was April 7 at home against St. Croix Prep, but that was cancelled due to weather.

The next day, the Beacons played their first game and lost 7-4 to Southwest Christian. On Friday, Concordia played its first home game and lost 11-0 in six innings to former Tri-Metro Conference rival Minnehaha Academy.

Speaking of the Tri-Metro, the conference has a new look this season. Six schools left the league to form their own conference and new to the league are Columbia Heights, Fridley and Holy Angels.

Tupper wasn’t sure what to expect from the newcomers, but figured that St. Anthony Village and Visitation would be among the contenders.

The two have meet in the Section 4AA final the past two seasons.

Concordia gets a look at St. Anthony and one of the new teams in the conference this week. The Beacons host St. Anthony on Wednesday and visit Holy Angels on Thursday. Also the docket this week is a trip to Minneapolis for a non-conference game against Roosevelt on Friday.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.


Concordia Academy fastpitch softball schedule

April 15    vs. St. Anthony Village    4:30 p.m.
April 16    at Holy Angels    4:30 p.m.
April 17    at Minneapolis Roosevelt    4:15 p.m.
April 20    at Brooklyn Center    4:30 p.m.
April 22    vs. Fridley    4:30 p.m.
April 24    at St. Croix Lutheran    4:30 p.m.
April 27    vs. St. Agnes    4:30 p.m.
April 29    vs. Columbia Heights    4:30 p.m.
May 1    Tournament at Central Park    Time TBA
May 2    Tournament at Central Park    Time TBA
May 4    vs. Visitation    4:30 p.m.
May 7    at DeLaSalle    4 p.m.
May 8    at Stewartville tournament    4:30 p.m.
May 11    vs. St. Paul Academy    4:30 p.m.
 

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