By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Del City’s softball team might be short on experience this season.
The team returns only a few varsity players from a year ago, but their efforts to rebuild are already off to a strong start.
“Several kids that were new to our program have come in and made amazing strides and improvements this summer,” said coach Erin Graeber. “We’ve had a lot of girls come for open field and worked very hard.”
The Lady Eagles have four returning players from last year with Brooklyn Noel, Brooke Morgan, Kenzie Wynns and Ryen Gaddis.
Noel will handle pitching duties again after earning all-district honors last year as a sophomore. The junior, who also wrestles and runs track for Del City, said she’s put in a lot of time and effort in the offseason.
“I learned a few new pitches and I’ve gotten my speed up a little bit,” Noel said. “I’ve also improved my location with pitches, so I feel pretty good about it.”
Morgan will return at catcher after earning the spot last season as a freshman. Wynns will again start in the outfield.
Gaddis played JV last year after transferring from Midwest City. She will likely play shortstop and pitch.
Many girls are still competing for starting positions.
“A lot of the other spots are still up in the air,” Graeber said.
With many new and inexperienced players, the team is focusing on fundamentals of the game and building culture.
“We need to have a lot of patience and encouragement and not get down on ourselves,” Noel said.
The Lady Eagles will face an uphill climb in District 6A-4, which produced three state tournament teams in 2021 with Choctaw, Broken Arrow, and Owasso. It will be the second year of a two-year alignment in 6A. Del City is expected to move to 5A for the 2023-24 seasons.
“We have a packed schedule and the only way to improve is with experience,” Graeber said.
Del City opens the season next week with a pair of road trips. They play at Norman North on Aug. 8 and have a road doubleheader at Broken Arrow on Aug. 9. Their home opener will be Aug. 15 against Tulsa Union.