Excitement is in the air for the Elizabeth softball team as the 2014 season gets underway.
Steve Biller returns for his second year of coaching the Cardinals and is confident that his girls are going to fashion a fine season within the Class 4A, Colorado 7 League this fall. Elizabeth struggled through a rough 5-13-1 campaign last year, but hopes are high there will be much improvement.
The Cardinals dropped their opener Aug. 16 against Sand Creek, 17-13, but now, it's on to the rest of the season, one in which Elizabeth will be playing on a newly improved field.
“I really think we're going to have a great year,” said senior Maegen Jaecer. “We have our same coach and he knows how to treat us. We have a lot of good girls this year and were all working hard for our team. ... Hopefully, we're going to go a long ways.”
Those thoughts ring true, as well, for Biller, who said he feels this is a squad that certainly will be able to overcome its youth.
“We have a young team, athletically gifted and with a lot of promising athletes,” Biller said. “We only have five girls back from last year and they all have excellent leadership. I'm pretty excited about the season. I'm looking forward to great things.”
Joining Jaecer as returnees will be seniors Jessi Dodge and Kimmy Handley, junior Lindsey Handley and sophomore Adison Bernier.
“I think we will have great pitching and those efforts will carry over to the way the girls are expected to play in the field,” Biller said. “We also have a fine ninth-grade class coming in. It's just a good outlook.”
Dodge and Handley, who both hail from Kiowa — a school without a softball program — are pleased they can play softball and have been highly welcomed by Elizabeth and Biller and their teammates.
“We have a real strong freshman class which will help us build a lot this season,” said Dodge, who plays shortstop and third base. “I think we have a fine future. ... We're a family and that counts a lot.
“I think we can really improve from over last year. Those certainly are the thoughts of all of us who played last season. Coach is putting to work so that we can excel.”
Handley, who catches and also handles third-base duties for Elizabeth, said she feels the Cardinals can learn from last year's mistakes this season.
“We're definitely working hard to overcome mistakes and try not to get mad at ourselves,” Handley said. “I'm looking forward to a fine season, like we all are, and I think we have a lot of ability to have that fine season. Teamwork will be a key, that's for sure.”
Bernier, who plays right field and also sees time behind the plate, is high on the prospects for Elizabeth and hopes to build on last year's experiences.
“This team has taken care of me and helped me come a long way,” Bernier said. “We're a family and being a part of this family means a lot to me and to all of us. We all want to strive to do our best in all aspects of our game.”