Finishing up the Marlow Summer league and heading to the Duncan Pre-Season Festival, the Empire Softball team is putting the pieces together in preparation for the 2019 season.
A year ago, the Empire Lady Bulldogs made it to the regional tournament for the first time in over a decade. Now, they will have Coach Jeff Pierce, a new coach who was hired back in May, taking over.
Pierce said he is seeing the progress and is liking what the Empire girls softball team is all about.
“From the very beginning I knew that we had to start learning a lot about the game. Seeing the progress of them buying into our system and starting to learn me, we are starting to get the puzzle pieces put together and it is starting to fit,” Pierce said. “They are starting to figure out me and learn my ways, how I want things done, my terminology and what it means. There are times I kind of wonder if they think I was speaking in a foreign language, but that is the transition from going from one coach to another.”
On Thursday the Lady Bulldogs held a scrimmage with Frederick and Pierce saw his team come together. He noticed some of the things he has taught is starting to click for the team.
“We have started to hit the ball really well, which is a good thing. We want to start hot of course and we want to finish hot as well too,” Pierce said. “I know people sit there and say that you don’t want to peak too soon and fall down on the old roller coaster ride at the end and not peak at the right time. We want to stay hot all year long and they have been putting in the work and effort that I have been asking them to do.”
Along with the Marlow Summer league, Pierce has held summer workouts all year long and had the team lifting weights. He can tell that they are ready to take it to the next level.
“We still have a lot to learn but they are willing and put in the effort. Effort is something you can’t coach and it has to come from that individual,” Pierce said. “Communication is going to be our key to success on defense for sure, we are going to have to communicate and play with each other while talking during every pitch not just every inning. If they can do that between each pitch then our success can go up a notch if we are on the same page.”
Empire will come to the Duncan Scrimmage Festival on August 9 with first game taking place at 11 a.m. at Hines Park and then the regular season begins at home. The junior high will begin at 4:30 p.m. August 12 and the high school team will follow right after.
Pierce said the experience of the Duncan Festival will be key to getting ready for the season opener and is ready to go out and compete for the start of the season.
“We are going to learn the game itself. The live game experiences that we are going to get out of this pre-season festival out there at Duncan, we are still trying to put the puzzle pieces together,” Pierce said. “That is the whole thing is we are going to put out the best nine that is going to give us the best chance to be successful at any given time. We are out to win and compete.”