Breaking training: Gering girls softball looks forward to meeting season goals
     2016-08-05      By Frank Marquez    editor@geringcitizen.com
Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen Gering’s softball players from left to right, Marley Garcia, Delaney Dean, and Kelsey and Kaylee Bohnsack run the bleachers at Memorial Stadium. 
Gering High School senior Jacee Marietta said she wants to “pitch a perfect game against whoever.”

Kaylee Bohnsack, also from the Class of ’17, wants to be above a .400 hitter. “Hitting is a big deal for me,” she said. Last year, Kaylee was smacking the yellow threaded orb, and getting on base more than half the time she was at-bat.

Freshman Calista Muhr, a shortstop and centerfielder, said “I kind of suck, but I’m willing to learn, and I’m willing to improve.”

Another Freshman, Kelsey Bohnsack, 14, Kaylee’s younger sister joined the team feeling a little peer pressure. Kidding aside, she joined, wanting to follow in her sister’s footsteps. This year, she aims to resolve her issue with focus. She wants to practice keeping her “head in the game, and improve on defense,” specifically “fielding without pulling my head.”

Fifteen-year-old sophomore Kelly Snelling, who plays leftfield and shortstop, said, all she wants to do is “get better at hitting,” which she sees as a huge weakness, and her strengths as defense, and running.” The others players in the group agreed, visibly nodding. Marietta chimed in, saying “she laps the other runners,” during some of the workouts.

As for the team goal, they were unanimous; they want their team to win the B6 Districts.

Last Wednesday, under crystal blue skies and nary a breeze, Head Coach of the Gering Girls Softball team Tim Gonzalez held practice. He’ll start two-a-days on Monday. Along with him, 32 girls will be getting ready for the long season ahead – about 30-plus games, driving toward that final regular season tilt on Oct. 7, and hopefully a playoff berth. In two short weeks, the Gering Bulldogs will be competing in their first tournament, at Aurora, Nebraska, 24 hours after the school doors reopen for the 2016-17 school year on Aug. 18. According to Gonzalez, they’re expected to be bright eyed come 6 a.m. for two hours, then another two hours starting at about 5:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, on the football field at Gering’s Memorial stadium this past Wednesday morning, the girls broke a summer sweat running steps, knocking out push-ups, scissors, ran a bull-dog run, and half mile for time. It would be safe to say, more than a few of them were feeling the shock of waking up before 6 a.m.

Gonzalez said he will determine positions and carve out a batting order in the heat of battle next week. Until then, nothing is locked up. Assistant and Junior Varsity Coach Jacque Marquez, in her second season with Gering softball, said “chemistry is about the same, maybe a little improved over last year. We have a lot of freshmen. I like the numbers, and what I have to work with.”

Planting the seeds of a championship or even of a successful season doesn’t come easy. The girls who were bent over gasping for air and water were a telling sign. Marquez added, “It’ll be a good season for JV. I’ve worked some things as far my approach to coaching. I believe we’ll improve our record. I have a good feeling about this year.”

Several of the girls said they spend extra time practicing with dads and older brothers, explaining some of their reasons for playing. “Our moms are the cheerleaders,” Kelsey said. Indicating that practice is not all work, and that the girls like to have their fun, Marietta said, “making good plays gets us excited, fielding, making a good catch, and hitting. My least favorite part of practice is running.”

Marietta went further to explain her reason for hurling a ball at top speed across home plate. Her cousin was a pitcher, “she’s someone I looked up to.”

For Kaylee, who started at 8 playing T-ball, she didn’t like volleyball. “It was either this, or cross country. I love it. I could play all year.”

Muhr got bored one summer. Her dad suggested softball. “I watched the college games, then started really getting into it three years ago,” Muhr said.

Snelling said she didn’t want to run a 5K in cross country. “Plus, Delaney Dean talked me into it,” she said. “She told me I have the skills to play, and I could really contribute this year.”
Kelsey said it was a no-brainer to follow her sister. Swinging a bat, throwing and catching, runs in the family. Youngest member Kaden, 11, plays baseball. Though a talented lot, his travel team was ousted in competition at state last month.

Kelsey added that she’s learned a lot from her older sister, and family overall. “She’s my big sister. She taught me everything. I’ve watched her my whole life. How to be good, how to be kind, how to respect other players.”

The girls filed out of the stadium, the whole day ahead; Kaylee and Marietta headed off for their senior pictures. They indicated they’d be wearing their Gering Bulldog uniform for some of them, proud to play in this their final season.

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