Captains the Support Structure for Tri-County Softball

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Tri-County Softball coach Stephanie Caffrey will look to her three captains, Ava Nobel (right), Abby Pacheco (center), and Kendra Whelan (left) to help build team camaraderie and skill this year.
Issue Date: 
May, 2019
Article Body: 

Having only graduated two seniors from last year’s team, one would believe that the Tri Country Softball team would be in line for a very successful season. However, Coach Stephanie Caffrey is looking to figure out her team and where everyone fits into the Cougar lineup.
“Last year, we had two third basemen switching back and forth because it made sense, and I couldn’t figure out who belonged there,” she said. “Both played well and deserved time on the field. This year will be interesting to see who wins out.”
Having just missed out at making the tournament last spring, Caffrey is hoping that this year’s team will be hungrier to get back there. In looking to do so the Cougars will rely on its trio of captains to get them back to the Promised Land.
“We are going to be competitive this year, we just need to work out the kinks and get the team where it needs to be,” Caffrey said. “We have the talent and the dynamic, we just need to put it all together, and the three captains will be the main focus of that.”
Leading Tri County into battle this spring will be tri-captains Ava Nobel, a three-year starter for the Cougars who will play center field; Abby Pacheco, a two-year starter who will patrol left field and the only junior captain Kendra Whelan, a three-year starter who will play short stop and bat lead-off.
Noble, who is playing centerfield, and Whelan, who is at short, both found themselves in different positions at the beginning of last season. The two were playing their counterparts position before Caffrey flipped them and things clicked. Pacheco was also an infielder before moving her to the outfield last spring.
“Ava has a cannon for an arm and can cover the whole field, while Abby will get things done at the plate. Her bat is beginning to come alive and she has begun hitting for power,” the Tri County Coach said. “Kendra is out lead-off hitter and also can hit for power, but when she is on the bases she is very smart.”
So, while the tri-captains will be playing their positions for the second straight year, Caffrey is looking for them to get this team where it needs to be by the end of the campaign.
“We have planned a lot of team building exercises this year,” Noble said. “I think that as a team we are very close to one another.”
Pacheco agreed with her fellow captain’s assessment of the team.
“We’ve come a long way, and collectively, have come together to become a family that works well together and will take part in team dinners, campfires and other events to build the spirit.”
The team only has three seniors gracing their roster this season. In addition to Noble and Pacheco, second baseman Brianna Murray is also in her final season on the Tri County diamond. The majority of the team is made up of underclassmen that are looking to take their game to the next level. According to the captains, sophomores Anna Weidman and Annika Yanoshak have looked the part so far and should help the team get back to the tournament.
In changing positions, all three believe in the coach and her good for the team’s success. Noble was a shortstop her entire career before moving to the outfield and according to Pacheco, Noble is a star that can cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Whelan originally began as a catcher, played the outfield before eventually moving to shortstop, a position she never played, especially at the high school level.
“This is what it is all about,” Whelan said. “We need to not only be coachable, but we need to adapt to what is needed for the team. The coach has really helped me to adjust to my new position.”
Like the other two captains, Pacheco had played the outfield in rec league play, but never on the varsity high school level.
“It’s nice to be able to help the team out in any way that is needed,” she said. “The big thing for this team to be successful is that we all have to be coachable and do what is asked of us.”
Coming into the season, the captains are all looking to improve upon their skills so that the other team members follow in their footsteps. Noble is hoping to work on her hitting and see a vast improvement at the plate by the end of the year; In addition to being a leader in the field, Pacheco would like to bring the team together where they all feed off one another’s energy and Whelan, who wants to improve as a team player, also wants to help all of the younger athletes to improve their skills on the field.
Despite opening the season with a 12-9 loss to Norfolk Aggie, the Cougars are optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We started that game out slow, and by the time that we started to mount a comeback it was too late,” Pacheco said. “Being a young team, we also made a lot of mental errors in the field, but that will all change with confidence.”
With discipline and hard work, the Cougars should be okay, say the captains.
“We put ourselves in a tough position starting off slow,” Whelan said. “We have a tough schedule in front of us, and we need to improve if we’re going to have success. We need to come out and start strong.”
“We’re playing the game because we all love it,” Noble said. “We are in it to win it.”