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For Washington County’s softball head coach Paul Coulter, the key to his team’s success this season will be the playing experience that the Commanderettes bring to the table.
They return four seniors who have received significant playing time in the past — Hannah Coulter, Olivia Goatley, Maddie Abell and Mercedes Cowherd — and bring in Kari Creech, who transferred in this season from Letcher County where she was a two-year starter.
This type of returning leadership is something that coach Coulter counts on helping some of the underclassmen adjust to the varsity level.
And it is a challenge that the seniors have been eager to take on.
“As seniors, we’re trying to bring the team together as one,” Cowherd said. “In the past, we’ve always been separate and in our own little groups.”
“We all feel like it’s our job to take on a bigger leadership role and guide a lot of underclassmen that can step up,” Abell added.
Coach Coulter, who is in his second season as head coach after spending time as an assistant, feels that, in the past, the teams have been disjointed and not played as a group.
That is something that he hopes to fix this season.
“We would really like to see them playing together,” coach Coulter said. “Getting along and playing as a team can go a long way. We’re hoping to put together a winning record, something not a lot of teams have done here, and I think that goal can help unify us.”
Coulter believes that this type of unity can’t be established solely on the diamond.
“It’s not just about being a team on the field, but it’s being one off the field, too,” Coulter said. “We need to push each other to get better but pick each other up when we’re down, too.”
But for Goatley, improving on last year’s 10-14 record starts with giving “110 percent” throughout the entire game, no matter the score.
“We have to fight to the finish because, in the past, when we’ve gotten down, we’ve just given up,” Goatley said. “We would get down and not be able to get back in the game.”
Even though, the season has yet to start, the team has already faced a few challenges, most notably the injuries to Coulter and Goatley.
Coulter, the team’s main pitcher, stretched the bicep in her throwing arm last October, according to coach Coulter, while Goatley broke her leg during WC’s annual powderpuff game.
But coach Coulter believes that, with the extensive physical training that each player underwent in the offseason, they could both be “100 percent” by the first game.
The Commanderettes will open their season this Friday as they travel to John Hardin.