Published: Jul 12, 2006 01:12 PM
Modified: Jul 12, 2006 01:11 PM
Cary High may not be in the mix for a Tri-Seven Conference softball title, but the Imps are having a great time this spring.
"I've got the most fabulous bunch of players any coach could ever ask for," said Cary coach Marsha Shields after a conference loss at Fuquay-Varina High on Friday that dropped the Imps to 11-8 overall and 4-7 in the league.
"They are ambitious," Shields said. "They set their goals high. They are committed, dedicated and a whole bunch of fun. It makes it enjoyable."
Shields said camaraderie, teamwork and fun best describe this year's edition of Cary softball, and her seniors are largely responsible for the atmosphere.
"They lead by example," Shields said of seniors Lindsey Eversole, Tara Mercurio and Bailey Whisler. "They set the pace for everybody else. They let everybody know what the goals are -- what we want to accomplish as a team."
It's difficult to get much accomplished against a team like Fuquay-Varina, though. The Bengals (18-4, 10-0) wrapped up a share of their ninth straight conference title with a 9-0 shutout of the Imps.
But Shields and her seniors agreed that they would use the loss as a learning experience. They see the Fuquay-Varina program and that kind of winning tradition as where they want Cary to be. They're trying to lay a foundation this season.
"We were down 9-0 in the seventh inning, still they didn't let up," Shields said. "That's how they've been. There's a lot of love there. It's truly been a team effort all season long.
"On paper, we shouldn't have won 11 games. Because we are so young, we have three to four freshmen usually playing in every game. That's a lot and we don't have a history. The captains are helping find that tradition, so that when they leave they can have something proud to look back on. They can say, You know what -- we started that.'"
Eversole said she realizes how young this year's team is, but the seniors won't allow the underclassmen to use youth as an excuse -- and they haven't.
"It's a building year with new people," Eversole said. "All the new people have stepped up to the plate. Even though they are freshmen and sophomores, they've really played their role and done their duty."
Whisler's message to the youngsters is simply through word and example.
"Don't fear," she said. "Just keep your spirit up."
Although she plays shortstop for her club team, Whisler has pitched all but two innings for Cary this spring -- whatever it takes to give the team a chance to win.
Whisler, Eversole and Mercurio will take the home field for the final time on Friday, May 5, at 6 p.m. against Apex High for senior night. The players hope they've done enough and that they've helped lay a foundation for next year's team.
"(It's) the whole confidence thing," Mercurio said. "We go into the games trying to win. They (the underclassmen) just need to keep on believing in themselves. We've got a really good team. They are all solid players. They just need to know it."
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