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LWSN Editor Conor Revell talked with Male head softball coach Josh Bloomer after their 8-1 victory over No. 11 Mercy Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs are 23-4 and one of the best hitting teams in the state featuring sluggers Jenna Howell, Madison McCoy, Jasmine Miller, and Jaelyn Sanders.
What has allowed your team to hit so many bombs this season?
“You know, just work. Our kids really work. They are committed to what we’re trying to do. I think a lot of it is – we can play some small ball, but it’s not what we do. We have that ability. The biggest thing is our players know that it is okay to fail. That’s what the game is about. You’re going to get opportunities and you have to keep on believing. You’ll go through slumps. They understand how to attack and have an aggressive mindset. If you’re trying to hit the ball hard, you’re more likely to hit a long ball. If you just try to make contact, you’re more likely to hit weak balls.”
What is it like having a 1-2 pitching punch with Jaelyn Sanders and Kelsie Houchens?
“That’s awesome. It really is. Everybody wants me to say who is my No. 1 and who is my No. 2. I think they’re both really, really good. Anybody who tries to tell me one is better – doesn’t understand softball. We have two No. 1 pitchers. The great thing about it is that neither of them are jealous of the other and they embrace the fact that there are two of them and that it helps them both individually because they don’t wear down. If we get stuck in a spot, we know we can go as hard. It gives us some options come postseason. Sometimes we take it for granted with who we are in the circle. I think we have the best 1-2 combination in the state. Fortunately, they’re both sophomores and we have them for a couple more years.”
Your teams are usually fast, how speedy is this year’s team?
“We have spots, but we have to pick our spots. Some of it is we’re young. We play five eighth graders and some of that is teaching them how to play aggressively in a smart way. We have the speed. Morgan Zuege has 39 stolen bases on the year. She’s really fast. Jae (Sanders) has great speed. McCoy has speed. We steal a lot of bases, it’s what we do. Sometimes teams think we are just a home run team, but we’re always going to play aggressive. We have to pick our battles. We’re balanced. We can hit the balls in the gaps, we can play small ball if we need to, and we have some slappers. I really like my team. I don’t know how it is all going to play out, but I’m not going to pick anybody else.”
What do you have to do this week to prepare for the postseason?
“I want to see us continue to challenge each other. Our schedule is back-loaded on purpose. We have six games in five days this week. They’re all good teams. We play No. 12 Oldham County Wednesday, we play Manual Thursday, No. 1 Scott County Friday, No. 10 Madisonville-North Hopkins, and No. 13 Butler Saturday. I don’t just want to see them come out and compete, I want to them not to lose focus. If we win them all, that’s awesome, if we don’t, oh well. When we beat Ballard last week, I walked away from the game feeling good about the future. We didn’t lay down after that first inning when we gave up three runs. We fell behind against Mercy and we came right back and scored two runs. We recaptured the momentum. Some of the kids have to work on having a better approach at the plate. They’re swinging a little too soon in the count and getting behind. Defensively, we have some stuff to work on. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we just have to sharpen up some stuff and replace the plugs and rotate the tires. Whatever happens, happens. The Seventh Region is tough, we’ll have to work through Ballard again, if we get through that, we’ll see how things play out.”