|The seven dwarfs of the ISU softball team|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Thursday, 01 April 2010 23:39|
They could be described as seven hard workers that share different personalities but still complement each other nicely.
Although a description of them could pass for being about the seven dwarfs, there is nothing short about the freshman class of the ISU softball team, especially not in talent.
“I really like this class a lot. I think they’re just quality players with great character and a good work ethic,” ISU head coach Melinda Fischer said. “Just really determined to bring this program to the level we need it to be…I think they can become a class that can put some records in the book.”
Before this class can make history, they have a few speed bumps to overcome.
Jhavon Hamilton missed the fall softball season after getting surgery on her left shoulder that she injured a year prior. The Joliet, Ill., native has started all but one game for the ‘Birds this season, finding her knack in left field and for the first time in her career, the left side of the batter’s box. The transition was not an easy one, but its effectiveness is apparent.
Hamilton’s batting average is third highest amongst active players and she is tied on the team for first with most runs scored.
“I think she’s really matured in the outfield and really given us a lot of speed and quickness out there that you certainly need to play that position,” Fischer said.
Two other freshmen have been sidelined this season. Sara Bradley had surgery on her ACL and MCL after getting injured in practice and will likely receive a NCAA Medical Hardship since she will not be able to play this season.
Nichelle Harrison fractured her foot sliding into home plate during the NCFA Lead-off Classic that ISU participated in earlier this season. She is currently in a walking boot and the possibility of her returning to play is up in the air.
“Both of them have been very supportive and positive in the dugout,” Fischer said.
She believes that if they follow in the footsteps of junior Kara Nelson, who sat out last season with a broken hand, and learn the game from a coach’s perspective that they will be a “100 percent better athlete.”
With four other freshmen donning a clean bill of health, there is still room for the class of 2013 to make its impact on the field this season.
“I’ll do whatever I need to help my team win,” right fielder Lauren Kellar said.
While cheering her teammates on is an option, Kellar’s work when it is game time has been her best contribution. The right fielder from Colfax, Ill., has recorded 12 RBIs with 11 hits and appears to be finding her stride when at the plate.
“She’s recently started to come into her own from an offensive standpoint,” Fischer said. “With a little success comes confidence and I think her confidence has really elevated her game.”
Shelby Music has also recently found her rhythm at the plate.
“Shelby brings a consistent bat,” Fischer said. “She’s had a lot better production for us at the plate just recently.”
Coming from a strong high school program in Greenwood, Ind., where her team won the state championship her senior year, Music has alternated between left field and designated player for ISU.
Emma Clark is typically a third baseman, but has not seen time there working behind Preseason All-Valley pick Abby Olson. However, the Morton, Ill., native has continued to work hard and is finding her role on the team this season.
“I see her as being somebody that will be able to come off the bench and contribute in a pinch hit role,” Fischer said.
Rounding out the freshman class is Elizabeth Kay. She is learning the game from behind the plate as a catcher, but has also spent time in the designated player role.
The Bartlett, Ill., native has homered four times this season and is continuing to generate hits at the plate in the No. 4 spot in the lineup.
The cluster of freshman have each contributed in their own way to drive the Redbirds to a 14-10 record in the early stages of Missouri Valley Conference play.
They may have their chemistry to thank for that.
“Our whole team is pretty close,” Kellar said. “But there’s seven freshman and we’re all friends. It’s a lot easier to play softball with each other when everyone gets along. It makes it a lot more fun too.”
“They’re all seven different personalities,” Fischer said. “But because of that, I think they find the positiveness in each other and really bring that out.”