Expectations high for Gator softball

Expectations are once again high for a successful softball season from the Wewahitchka Gators, whose 21-4 record last season earned them a spot in the Class 1A Final Four before being ousted by eventual state champion Jay High Royals. 

Because that team did not have any seniors, Coach Justin Smith and the rest of the Gators are entering this season with high hopes of exceeding last year’s finish. 

Recently, the Star met with Haley Guffey, Morgan Mayhann, Kylie Parker, and Katie Shealy, the four seniors on this year’s squad, to get their views on the upcoming season. 

Guffey, the pitching ace who led the team in offensive stats with a .468 batting average, earned first team All-State honors for her pitching last year. 

“I think this season will be better (than last year) because we already look better than we did at the beginning of last season, and we didn’t lose any players,” she said.

“We have a tough season,” said Guffey, who expects to log several hundred innings pitched. Honing her skills while playing travel ball during the summer and fall helped keep her in shape and ready to compete. 

“This year, we’re trusting each other a lot better in the field because last year everybody was new and in different spots, and (now) we know what we’re doing,” she added. 

Her battery mate behind the plate, Mayhann, echoed those sentiments. “As a team, we have to just work together more, and communicate better than we did last year,” she said. “(We need to) give 100 percent every practice (and) every game, and not get upset and nag each other when we mess up or have an error.” 

Parker, the speedy outfielder, said “last season, we were pretty much a new team, and a lot of the girls had never really played varsity ball. I’m hoping this year that they feel more comfortable in the field.” 

As the center fielder, she often puts the other outfielders in their proper position because “I can see the angles better.” 

Early practices have the team looking “pretty good, just a little rusty,” said Parker. “But each day we’re getting back to how we were at the end (of last season). 

When asked about which pitch she preferred while in the batter’s box, she declared “I don’t know that I want that in the paper!” She did say that she was working on not thinking so much while batting.

Mayhann echoed her teammate. “You have to be ready for anything,” she said. “I’m trying to get to where I love every pitch so I can be able to hit anything.” 

Shealy, the team’s shortstop, leadoff hitter, and unofficial team philosopher, reflected that Wewa’s biggest competition would not be from any opponent on the field, but “ourselves, and getting in our own heads, because I feel like if we work hard and we work together we can beat any of the teams around here.” 

“We just have to get over mental blocks and keep competing like we know how,” she said. 

To improve both personally and as a team depends on “knowing how much dedication you have to put into it,” she said. 

Of equal importance, Shealy said, was “relaxing and letting all the training I’ve had through the years shine through, especially since it’s my senior year. I feel like I just have to do what I know how to do.” 

Asked about her preferred pitch, Shealy offered that “My favorite pitch is one where I look the pitcher dead in the eye, and I just know (she’s) scared. And then I’m, like ‘OK, this is about to be a good one.’” 

In addition to the four seniors, the Gator roster includes junior Madison Forehand; sophomores Savanna Mayhann, Kennedy Murphy, Ashley Thompson, and Hope Thompson; freshmen Keersten Easter and Laiken Ferrell; eighth graders Severa Haney and Emma Rustin; and seventh grader Eden Rustin. 

The four seniors and their Gator teammates get this year’s campaign started next week at the Wewa Pre-Season Classic, Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 18-20. 

Wewa will play Graceville on Friday at 5 p.m. Central, and Freeport on Saturday at 10 a.m. Central. 

Other teams at the pre-season event are Altha, Blountstown, Franklin County, Marianna, Port St. Joe, Sneads, and Vernon.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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