Ballard’s softball team had a productive spring break in Florida, and no, there wasn’t a lot of relaxing, it was about getting better on the field.
The Bruins (5-1) had only played one game this season before the trip and it was 6-5 heart breaking loss to Madison Central.
It turned out to help Jones and his squad as they went 5-0 at the Florida Beach Bash in Fort Walton Beach/Destin and beat North Laurel (11-0), Edgewood (Ohio – 4-0), Apollo (10-2), Springboro (Ohio – 8-2), and the defending Ohio state champs Elyria (13-1) to end their trip.
How did the trip in Florida go?
“It exceeded expectations. It was unbelievable. The light-bulb finally went on with this team. This is by far the hardest team I have ever had to work with. The pitching was fabulous and the hitting was really, really good against some good competition. But, we still have a long way to go. I just got done telling the girls that. But, it looks really promising if we keep the same work ethic.”
What does your team need to work on most?
“We need to get more mentally tough. We need to work a little bit more on our defense – running and charging at the ball – and relaxing more.”
What did that season opening loss do for your team?
“I was really proud of them because that loss was unexpected, but I think that was the best thing that has ever happened to us. It was an eye opener and we really went to work after that. My dad always said you never learn from a win, you always learn from a loss, and we learned a lot from that game.”
Who stood out this week?
“It’s so hard to pick a player because so many kids did well. Alivia Sinnott pitched fabulous. The slappers Madison (Alexander) and Taylor (Klumb) and Kristen (Klimesh) did great. Skylar (Lee) and Allie (Skaggs) really hit the ball great. Our freshmen played fabulous. Allie hit three out this week which is awesome. She’s a sophomore and committed to Arizona. But, it wasn’t just a person, it was the whole team. This was definitely a team effort from top to bottom.”
What does the spring break trip do for your team off the field?
“You know what it does, it brings the girls together. That’s what so important. They bond with each other and get to know one another. The play for myself is over with and they start to care about one another. This year it was especially important because we’re a young team, but we grew up a lot this week, a whole lot.”
What’s your favorite about this team?
“My favorite part of the trip was that they focused on softball. It wasn’t about the beach, it wasn’t about the pool. We have had terrible weather back home and when we got down here it was 78 degrees and sunny. I told them give me four days of softball, then you get four days to do whatever you want. Not once were they tired or loathing during those four days. You could tell they wanted to get better and play softball. That was awesome and excites me more than anything. They knew they were down here for four days for softball and it showed.”
What’s next for Ballard softball?
“You know what we told them? We told them to enjoy their next four days off. We’re going back and we’re getting back to work. I truly believe that this team can do something special because they are so focused, experienced winning, and saw how good they can be. We’ll work hard together Monday and Tuesday and then Eastern on Wednesday is one of the most important games of the year because it’s a district game. If we win that, we get a bye in the first round of the district, and we’re automatically in region.”