Softball Team Stays Upbeat Despite Losses

Abby Lawrence releases the ball while pitching against Hancock on Sept. 29 at Brentwood Park. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Abby Lawrence releases the ball while pitching to Hancock this week at Brentwood Park. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Team is half senior, half first-year player

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

The Brentwood High School softball team has lost a lot more games than the two it has won so far this season. A bunch of the losses have been blowouts. You might think the dugout is quiet, the mood tense, the coach exasperated.

But if you think that about the Eagles, you haven’t been to any of their games, you don’t know their head coach. Whether her team is up by 8 or down by 8, Kelly Javier keeps up pretty much the same constructive banter. It’s not all praise, but she never seems to spout the anger and sarcasm that many coaches would resort to who are two-and-something late in the season.

“So this is what I want you to do,” she told them after a 17-0 loss to Clayton. “Do the thing that you’ve been doing really great. Just pick up the good stuff and decide what you’re going to work on. Leave the rest of the past in the past — there’s too much of that to carry.”

That’s probably good advice for a team that has so many players, almost half of them, who are out for the first time.

“We have a team of kids who haven’t played before, except the seniors,” Javier said. “But they come out and try.”

Kelly Javier leads a cheer.
Coach Javier leads a cheer before a Sept. 15 game with Clayton at Shaw Park.

‘The Throw’

When you lose a lot the occasional highlight seems that much better. In a recent loss to Lutheran North, the Cougars cracked a fly ball over the leftfielder’s head. Third baseman Rivera raced out to be the cut-off person and ran almost all the way to the fence before the leftfielder picked it up and flipped it to her.

In just about any other girls softball game in St. Louis, the lead runner would have crossed home plate standing up. But of course Rivera is Brentwood’s three-time state champion in the shot put and discus. She threw a rope to catcher Jill Yancey, who caught it on one bounce, turned and tagged the surprised runner for the out.

“I mean, it would have been a home run any place else,” said Javier. “It was the last out of the inning and the kids were so excited.”

Sophia Rivera and Sarah Thomas share a fancy handshake after the game.
Sophia Rivera and Sarah Thomas share a fancy handshake after the loss to Clayton.

‘Willing to get her brave on’

Tall, strong and the most successful female athlete in BHS history, Rivera could probably star on the league champion volleyball team. But for the past three years she has played softball instead, on teams that have won only a few games each season.

“The best thing is that she puts herself in a position where she knows she’s not going to win,” said Javier. “Who does that? Who walks into that? She could go play another sport – the volleyball team wins all the time. Could you imagine her spiking a ball? But for everybody to see her in a place where she’s pretty vulnerable is really great. Every once in a while you might strike out? What are you going to do when that happens? You pick yourself back up and get ready to go the next time. You have so much joy as a coach when you have a kid who is willing to get her brave on and do that.”

Sophia Rivera gloves a grounder in the first inning.
Sophia Rivera gloves a Clayton grounder in the first inning.

Players by position

Rivera began playing at first base this season but has been on a campaign to play every position.

“We play rock paper scissors to decide what position Sophia is going to play,” said Javier. “If she wins she gets to pick.”

Rivera is one of six seniors on Brentwood’s 13-player roster. The other five are Victoria Aunger (second baseman, outfielder), Abby Lawrence (pitcher), Molly Mills (first baseman, shortstop), Sarah Thomas (left fielder) and Jill Yancey (catcher).

The team’s only junior is infielder Kelsey Krimmel.

The three sophomores are second baseman Angeles Calzada and outfielders Rosie Robinson and Haley Winning.

The three freshmen are third baseman Logan Darrow and outfielders Emily Record and Caitlin Souers.

“Logan is a real first baseman but she’s also a real ballplayer so we moved her to third,” said Javier. “She’s also left-handed and she’s like, ‘Are you crazy?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I kind of am because we need you over there.’”

Logan Darrow gets warmed up before the game.
Freshman Logan Darrow warms up before the Sept. 29 game with Hancock. She’s the team’s brightest new talent.

2015 BHS Softball team

Seniors: Victoria Aunger, Abby Lawrence, Molly Mills, Sophia Rivera, Sarah Thomas, Jill Yancey.

Junior: Kelsey Krimmel.

Sophomores: Angeles Calzada, Rosie Robinson, Haley Winning

Freshmen: Kaitlin Souers, Logan Darrow, Emily Record

Sarah Thomas reaches second base.
Sarah Thomas reaches second base in the game with Clayton.

Photos from Sept. 29 game with Hancock

Assistant coach Scott Long flips a ball up for Molly Mills in pregame batting practice.
Assistant coach Scott Long flips a ball up for Molly Mills in pregame batting practice.
Sarah Thomas takes her turn at batting practice before the game.
Sarah Thomas takes her turn at batting practice.
In this photo and the next two, Kelsey Krimmel takes batting practice.
In this photo and the next, Kelsey Krimmel takes batting practice.

DSC_9957 Kelsey Krimmel pregame

Sarah Thomas tugs assistant coach Scott Long's beard before the game.
Assistant coach Scott Long is a good sport and lets Sarah Thomas tug his beard before the game.

DSC_9863 Sarah Thomas, Scott Long pregame

Sophia Rivera starts her swing in what will be an inside-the-park homerun in the first inning.
Sophia Rivera starts her swing in what will be an inside-the-park homerun in the first inning.
Logan Darrow smiles after sliding into third base in the first inning.
Logan Darrow smiles after sliding into third base in the first inning.
Molly Mills swings at a pitch in the first inning.
Molly Mills swings at a pitch in the first inning.
A Hancock base runner takes off from second base as Jill Yancey watches a play at first base.
A Hancock runner takes off from second base as Jill Yancey watches a play at first base.
Victoria Aunger awaits a pitch in the second inning.
Victoria Aunger awaits a pitch in the second inning.
Rosie Robinson gets a hit in the second inning.
Rosie Robinson gets a hit in the second inning.
Sophia Rivera slides safely into home plate in the second inning.
Sophia Rivera slides safely into home plate in the second inning.
Caitlin Souers steps back to second base in the second inning.
Caitlin Souers steps back to second base in the second inning.

Photos from Sept. 15 game with Clayton

Emily Record warms up her arm before the game.
Emily Record warms up her arm before the game.
Jill Yancey takes a grounder hit by coach Kelly Javier.
Jill Yancey takes a grounder hit by coach Kelly Javier.
Victoria Aunger plays catch before the game begins.
Victoria Aunger plays catch with a teammate before the game.
Infielder Logan Darrow fires he ball to home plate.
Logan Darrow fires the ball to home plate during infield practice.
Molly Mills scoops up a chopper in the first inning.
Molly Mills scoops up a chopper during infield practice.
Head coach Kelly Javier gives her players a pep talk before the game.
Head coach Kelly Javier gives her players a pep talk before the game.
Abby Lawrence winds up for a pitch with a Clayton runner on second base.
Abby Lawrence winds up for a pitch with a Clayton runner on second base.
Catcher Logan Darrow is ready for the ball as a Clayton base runner nears home plate . . .
Catcher Logan Darrow is ready for the ball as a Clayton base runner nears home plate . . .
. . . catches the ball . . .
. . . catches the ball . . .
. . . and tags the runner out.
. . . and tags the runner out.
Catcher Jill Yancey stops a runner at home plate in the first inning.
Catcher Jill Yancey stops a runner at home plate in the first inning.
Molly Mills and her teammates are congratulated by coaches Scott Long and Kelly Javier for getting the third out in the first inning.
Molly Mills and her teammates are congratulated by coaches Scott Long and Kelly Javier for getting the third out in the first inning.
Rosie Robinson awaits a pitch in the second inning.
Rosie Robinson awaits a pitch in the second inning.
Pitcher Abby Lawrence throws to Molly Mills at first base.
Pitcher Abby Lawrence throws to Molly Mills at first base.
Sarah Thomas looks to make a long throw to first base.
Sarah Thomas looks to make a long throw to first base.
Brentwood coach Kelly Javier shouts encouragement to one of her infielders.
Brentwood coach Kelly Javier shouts encouragement to one of her infielders.
Though the Eagles lost by a lot, Abby Lawrence keeps it light with a dance move while returning to the dugout after slapping hands with Clayton players.
Though the Eagles lost by a lot, Abby Lawrence keeps it light with a dance move while returning to the dugout after slapping hands with Clayton players.

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