When coach Brian Personett set up this spring’s schedule for his Seymour softball team, he had a strong suspicion that the Owls might face some highly ranked opponents this week.
The Class 4A poll released Monday had Floyd Central rated No. 3, Indianapolis Roncalli No. 4 and Castle tied for sixth, with all three teams scheduled to come to the Owls’ diamond.
Tuesday’s scheduled game with Floyd was called off because of rain and hail.
The Owls (8-0), tied for 16th in the 4A poll, are scheduled to host Roncalli at 10 a.m. and Castle at 1 p.m. Saturday.
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“I knew Floyd Central was going to be strong,” Personett said. “We know each other well (both are members of the Hoosier Hills Conference and are in the same sectional.) I knew Roncalli was going to be strong. They got beat by Floyd Central in the first game of the semi-state last year, and didn’t graduate much.
“I didn’t know as much about Castle, but Castle’s a good program. They win their sectional down there a lot. I wasn’t expecting three of the top six teams in the state here this week.”
Personett said he and the coaching staff talks to the team a lot about playing good ball against strong teams.
“If we’re going to have success in the tournament, these are teams that we’re going to have to compete with,” he said. “I think you have to play these teams during the season to help prepare you for the tournament.”
Thus far, the Owls’ improvements in the off season have resonated to the diamond.
“Going into the season I thought we could be pretty good,” Personett said. “I’ve never really set down and said we should win ‘X’ amount of games. Teams come out of nowhere that you weren’t expecting them to be successful, or teams you thought were going to be really good don’t have the kind of year they were expecting.
“The kids have worked really hard over the winter. A lot of times the pitchers and catchers came in at 6:30 in the morning throwing to get extra reps. I was kind of out in January and February and the coaching staff really stepped up and everybody really worked hard.”
Personett attributed the Owls’ success to a lot of the girls playing travel ball.
“These kids come from successful travel programs, they play a lot of ball, and they come in and they expect to win,” he said.
Two juniors that have made key contributions are first baseman Katie Suits and shortstop Faith Rebber.
Both athletes expected the Owls to get off to the great start.
“I’d say we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be,” Suits said. “I feel we’re a very strong team this year and I feel we have a good chance of going far (in the tournament).
“I’ve been batting in the fourth spot. Definitely, all of us up-and-down the lineup have been hitting. We haven’t really had a weak bat in our lineup. That has definitely been helping.”
Suits is pleased with the progress of the Owls’ defense.
“We’ve been doing really well, so far, defensively,” Suits said. “Even our outfield has covered a lot of ground, which has definitely helped. Some of the hits that are usually base hits we’ve gotten outs, so that is huge. The pitchers have done a great job.”
Rebber also said she has a lot of confidence in her teammates.
“I was definitely expecting to be 8-0 because I could tell at the beginning of the season that we had real potential,” Rebber said. “Our pitching has been on all season so far. Our hitting has been on. We really haven’t had any trouble at all. I don’t think we’ve had hardly any errors this year.
“If we can pull off the wins Saturday I guarantee we’ll be real strong for the rest of the season. We need teamwork, staying positive. Even if we get a loss we just have to stay positive. I love the home games.”
Senior Avery Clark, junior Lo Schmidt, and freshman Rachel Kaufman have done all the varsity pitching for the Owls.
Kaufman pitched a perfect game against Brownstown Central.
Personett said the offense has been steady, as the Owls have outscored their opponents 73-21, and have scored in double digits five times.
They have had two close calls, beating Bedford North Lawrence 3-2 and New Albany 2-1.
“I feel like we’ve hit the ball pretty well,” Personett said. “We’re able to string hits together. I feel we’re really good hitters, 1-through-9 in the lineup. We don’t have any position in the lineup where I cringe and think ‘we’re going to take an out here.’
“At the high school level, if you have kids that can hit one-through-nine that’s a tremendous asset.”
Overall, Personett feels this year’s squad has progressed nicely.
“I know last year we struggled some defensively,” Personett said. “The one thing about freshmen and sophomores, they become sophomores and juniors. Another year under their belt they’re more mature. We worked hard this spring on defense. We did a lot of reps, a lot of touches, not throwing the ball as much, and just getting a lot of defensive fielding reps.”