By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
With just two varsity returnees on this year’s roster, the PikeView Panthers softball team is trying to get used to new positions with every practice.
It hasn’t been easy to get in those practices, due to the weather.
“You know the girls are getting tired and frustrated of being in the gym,” said head coach Steve Compton. “But I guess everybody’s in the same boat.”
He said on Thursday that the girls have been on their field only for two practices and two games.
PikeView, which beat Bluefield 15-9 on Wednesday to even its record at 1-1, will try for two games today in Gardner. The Panthers will play Ripley at about noon. Ripley and Princeton will play after that, and PikeView and Princeton will face off at about 4 p.m.
At least there is experience in the all-important area of pitching. The two returnees are junior Samantha Meadows and Compton’s daughter Haleigh Compton, who pitched from the circle last year as a freshman in both JV and varsity games.
A find as a starting pitcher is junior Kristen Worrell. Her coach said, “She’s a little more experienced than I thought she would be.”
He said both Worrell and Meadows “have pitched a lot of JV for us the last two years.”
The catcher is Savanna Coalson, who transferred from Shady Spring. “She works really hard,” coach Compton said. “She’s really solid back there. She’s got a strong arm, and she’s got the fundamentals ... the softball savvy, which helps.”
After losing nine seniors, including eight varsity starters, last spring, Compton said about the 2013 team, “They’re still learning. Everybody’s learning, still finding out where they’re going. ... If the weather had been a little better, it would have been an easier process.”
Finding the positive in the situation, he said, “We’re young, which is nice. Next year we’ll have most of the same team coming back. Having the middle school helps; four of our five freshmen played at the middle school last year.”
Freshman Audrey Higgins has settled in at shortstop, and Meadows is at third base when she’s not pitching.
Asked about hitting, Compton said, “Last year we struggled a little bit ... . This year I think we’re better at the plate. All the time we’ve been practicing in the gym, up there (in the weight-lifting building) and even in the cafeteria, we did a lot of hitting.”
“I think we’re better, 1 through 9 (in the batting order), than we have been in the past.”
He expects the hitting leaders to be Coalson, a junior, and senior Lena Hayworth.
Base running will be a positive factor for PikeView. Compton said, “We have Hope Nester and Lyndsay Hatfield from basketball, who can fly. They can help us in the short game in base-running.” Haleigh Compton also will be able to use speed on the base paths.
The task at the end of the season — as always — is to try to get by sectional rival James Monroe, which has won every sectional softball tournament in its history.
“I guess you can say they’re our measuring stick,” Steve Compton said. “We’ve got to get over that hurdle. They’re well-coached, they’ve got good softball players.”
“When I first started, my goal was for us to become competitive. We have been competitive, for the most part. Now we’ve got to take it to the next level.”
At the next level beyond that, in Region 3, are “tough teams” like Liberty, Independence and Greenbrier West. He added, “Westside has a pretty good team.”
But the PikeView coach sees continued improvement in his squad. Compton said, “I told them the other day that they were becoming softball players instead of people who play softball. That makes a big difference.”
— Contact Tom Bone at