While injuries to pitchers are seemingly always a story in baseball,
they are less apparent on the softball field, but they affect a team just as much.
That’s exactly what Thomas Dale has experienced as they are off to a 0-4 start as of press time. Staff ace, sophomore, and Longwood commit Leigha Hill went down with an arm injury, and it’s been a bumpy start for the Knights.
“Sometimes life doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to,” said coach Dennis Jones. “You have to overcome that adversity.”
As bumpy as it’s been, there have been many positives, and their loss to Manchester aside, the Knights have battled and stayed in each game, suffering one-run losses to Colonial Heights and Dinwiddie, while falling to Prince George in extra innings 6-3.
What’s the glue that’s held the team together? Signs point to senior outfielder and now, pitcher Lauryn King who signed along with the football players on National Signing Day to West Virginia Wesleyan and is known for her five-tool skill set. Despite not having pitched since the 8th grade, she’s kept Thomas Dale competitive.
“Lauryn has stepped up tremendously for her team,” said Jones. “She is a true team captain and is what defines a team player.”
Along with King, the Knights have gotten big-time offensive contributions from Brooke Dudley and Abby Traylor.
Dudley is King’s battery mate and the team’s catcher. The junior has also played on the infield with the injury that shuffled the positioning of the Knights. Traylor is a sophomore who’s shone defensively in the outfield in and gotten some big hits. Sophomore Li Li Smith has been a “surprise” as Jones puts it. A call-up from junior varsity, she’s been an on-base machine in addition to being a plus defender.
The team has started to gel even without their ace, and when Hill comes back healthy, don’t count out Thomas Dale.