By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
BROADALBIN -- Seemingly each spring, the story is the same for local baseball and softball squads in the preseason, with clubs lamenting their inability to practice outside because of uncooperative weather.
The girls of the Broadalbin-Perth softball team are no different.
"Oh, yeah. Definitely," says junior shortstop Rachel Orapello when asked if she's tired of the area's too-cold, and too-snowy weather. "It's hard to practice (in the gymnasium) because it's just not the dirt, it's not the same."
"We did get to go out in the parking lot one day," senior Caitlin Rasefske adds, almost wistfully. "If we could get rid of the snow, that would be a nice change."
But the time inside the gymnasium at the B-P High School has given the Lady Patriots some much-needed time together to sort out all their new parts and roles. Along with a new head coach -- Harrie Washburn takes over for Sara Hisert this season -- the Lady Patriots' roster features a host of new players and underclassmen; only five of the team's 15 players are seniors.
Washburn says that small group of upperclassmen have made the team's first few weeks together easy.
"The seniors are very good leaders," he says. "They've brought the (new) girls in and made them feel welcome."
"This year, we're all a tight-knit group," Orapello adds.
Rasefske says making it that way has been a breeze.
"We have some really good, positive attitudes from the lower classmen," she says. "And they are bringing a lot of talent to our team."
Meshing that talent has been a work in progress during the preseason's first weeks. Defensively, the Lady Patriots are far from a finished product, with players getting used to new positions -- notably, Rasefske is switching from center field to catcher -- and figuring out their defensive alignment around likely starting pitcher Nicole Traver. But the club's offense is already showing signs of promise.
"We have a lot of speed, a lot of fast girls that can lay down bunts, and we also have some power hitters, too," says Rasefske. "I think we have a good variety of stuff that we can bring to the table at our games."
Washburn wants to take advantage of his team's quickness.
"We'd definitely like to do some more bunt-and-running and fake-and-slaps, just to get people moving," he says. "I've always been aggressive and I like to run -- we just need to get on base first."
The Lady Patriots will get their first chance to implement their risk-taking offense next week, when B-P is set to travel Tuesday to Fonda-Fultonville to take on the Lady Braves.
Orapello says the Lady Patriots feel ready.
"For the first couple of weeks, we've been good -- and, usually we're pretty rough," she says, smiling.