Will Austin is the new head softball coach at Seymour High School.
Austin, who has been the assistant boys’ basketball coach at the local high school the past four years, isn’t a stranger to Seymour sports.
But he admits pre-season softball has been a learning experience.
“It’s different (than basketball),” Austin said with a smile. “This group hasn’t had a lot of success in the past in the fall season. They need to learn how to win.”
One thing helping the Tigers is experience.
Eight players with starting experience from a season ago return for the fall campaign — five seniors and three juniors.
There are two pitchers who have seen significant varsity action, both seniors.
“Experience is a strength of this team,” Austin noted. “However, although team members have played a lot of games, they haven’t won a lot of them. That’s what I’m optimistic will change this fall. The team is working hard.”
Last fall, Seymour’s record was 1-16.
The previous fall, the Tigers didn’t win a game.
But a good spring season has brought hope for the fall.
Last spring, Seymour finished with a 7-9 record and was above the .500 mark for most of the season.
In the spring, the Tigers’ team batting average was .313, a marked improvement from the .213 mark in the fall. Run production also was up from less than two per game to nearly six.
Five seniors with starting experience lead the way.
Among them are Libby Buchanan, Hayley Clark, Amy Herion, Reghan Matlock and Rylea Owens.
In the spring season, Buchanan posted a batting average of .360 with a team-best 16 runs scored. She is the team’s third baseman.
Matlock was next at .302 with four doubles and 15 runs.
She also was the only Tiger pitcher in the spring with a 7-9 record and an earned-run average (ERA) of 4.88. In 91-2/3 innings, she struck out 58.
Owens batted .273 with nine runs batted in (RBIs), while Clark’s average was .256 with four doubles.
Herion didn’t play in the spring but had a .231 batting average in the fall season and pitched 57 innings with 29 strikeouts and a 6.62 ERA.
Buchanan, Matlock and Owens all increased their batting averages from the fall to spring seasons; Clark was the top Tiger hitter last fall with a .300 average.
A trio of juniors also return to the team.
Crystal Misemer, the starting catcher, is the leading statistical returnee after she led Seymour with a .413 batting mark last spring. She added four doubles, 14 runs and 11 RBIs.
Macey Hubbard was close behind.
Hubbard batted above .550 in the second half of the spring season, finishing with a .370 average. She led the team with 16 RBIs and scored 15 runs.
Karli Henry, who plays first base, closed the spring with a .326 average after batting .289 last fall. In the spring, Henry had 9 RBIs and scored 11 runs.
“We’ve got an experienced foundation,” Austin said.
Seymour’s starting shortstop will be a newcomer.
Austin said freshman Lillie Rasmussen has been very impressive in the team’s practices.
“It’s not often that you see a freshman as your starting shortstop,” he said. “Lillie is very good. She can hit, and she can field and throw. She does about everything well.
“I could see Lillie being an all-conference and an all-district player at the end of the season.”
Another freshman who will see significant playing time is Sophia Telencio.
“Sophia is a utility player who can play a lot of positions,” Austin said. “For us this fall, she’ll probably play a lot at second base and left field.”
Austin is joined in the dugout by assistant coach Taylor Cornelison.
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Cassidy Cantrell, Alice Kramer, Makenzey Spencer and Adria Sturdefant.
“We don’t have any sophomores,” Austin said.
The Tigers opened their fall season last Saturday in tournament action at Buffalo where they won one and lost one.
On Thursday, Seymour plays host to Bakersfield, then Norwood visits on Friday.
Game time for each contest is 4:30 p.m.