After shattering the school’s record for number of wins in a season and winning a first-round playoff game, expectations are high for the Elkin softball team.
“We have big expectations of our girls,” assistant coach Steve Shaw said during practice Friday at Crater Park. “They’ve really matured; their confidence; their attitude; everything.
“They’re really a special bunch of girls.”
The Lady Elks won eight games a year ago, six more than the most they had won in a season previously. And, as Shaw pointed out, the year they won two — one was my forfeit.
Elkin returns All-Mountain Valley Athletic Conference selections Cayley Shoemaker and Rebekah Cranford and a strong supporting cast.
“Our kids have been great this year,” Shaw said. “With Cayley on the mound and Bethany (Turner) behind the plate, we’re really strong.”
Shaw said the program turned around with the hiring of Billy Palmer as the head coach three years ago. “Billy is one of the pioneers of fastpitch,” Shaw said. “He’s won state titles and world series with his travel teams.”
Shaw, who said he bleeds blue and gold, said it took “a lot of convincing” to bring Palmer to Elkin. “We were tired of seeing Elkin be the whipping post,” Shaw said.
The Lady Elks, who are at West Wilkes Tuesday and Ashe County Friday, won’t be home again until March 25 when they meet Alleghany. They have started their season 2-0 with a 10-3 win over Mount Airy and a 9-6 win over Surry Central.
Elkin softball at a glance
Coach: Billy Palmer, 3rd year
Conference: Mountain Athletic
Last Year’s Record: 8-9, lost in 2nd round to Hayesville
Returnees: Cayley Shoemaker, p, Sr.; Bethany Turner, c, Sr.; Kaitlyn Faw, 3b-of, Sr.; Sara Cudd, rf, Sr.; Rebekah Cranford, 1b, Jr.; Victoria Kiger, lf, Jr. ; Hannah Miles, dh, Jr.; Kirstan Beaver, ss, So.; Nicole Collins, cf, So.; Mattie Blackburn, 3b, So.
Newcomers: Reagan Parks, 2b, Fr.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.