By Matthew Yoder
Youth is the word when it comes to the 2020 edition of Arcadia softball. The Firebirds’ roster is predominantly made up of freshmen, with three juniors and one lone senior adding needed experience. For fourth-year coach Keith Justis, that inexperience can be looked at as a strength, particularly if the players he has to work with blend their talent with a willingness to learn. By all accounts, that seems to be the case with this team.
Justis made a point of assessing his team’s strengths as being defense and youth, and the two overlap when you look at the infield largely consisting of newcomers to varsity softball.
“We’re young, but if we work through it, we’ve got a lot of talent in the infield,” said Justis.
Much of the early part of practice Monday afternoon focused heavily on defense, with Justis hammering home groundball drills, as well as prepping what he believes will be a strong outfield headed into the season.
For the better part of a decade, Nandua and softball immortality have been synonymous, and Justis sees his duty as breaking the Warriors’ run. With sincere enthusiasm, Justis believes he has the tools to begin the task of unseating a dynasty.
“For the past 10 years, Nandua has been the model we try to base our program off of, we’re starting to make a turn, if everything hopefully goes as planned, we will bridge the gap a bit,” Justis said.
Monday’s practice included a lot of coaching, drilling, and encouragement. The Firebirds eagerly stepped into defensive double play scenarios and equally put forth inspired swings as the focus shifted to hitting, and their coach was quick to vocalize his pleasure with their progress.
“I like that hustle to the ball, great job, exactly what I was hoping for,” Justis could be overheard saying.
Assistant baseball coach Kyle Williams made a point to comment on the tremendous talent coming through the ranks of the JV softball team and spilling over to this year’s varsity squad.
“They are really talented, they’re going to be really good,” said Williams.
Justis couldn’t agree more, and spoke to witnessing his team in real time putting in the work to become fundamentally sound.
“We have a lot of talent and we’re starting to hone everything in now,” Justis said.
The Firebirds will soon know the fruits of their efforts with a trio of scrimmages next week, starting with a Monday game against Washington in Princess Anne. Games of statistical significance will follow shortly thereafter, and this young Arcadia team will learn quickly what it takes to win games in the present, to help secure success in the future.