Hailey Warner was the No. 1 pitcher. Abbie Carr was No. 2 when she wasn’t playing third base where she “had phenomenal reactions,” in the words of her coach.
Alyssa Gibson played second and was one of the team’s big cheerleaders and motivators. She formed a good double play tandem with shortstop Victoria Heard.
Rylee Bankert deftly handled the throws from the infield. She also was expert at taking throws from the outfield and relaying to the right base to pick off unwary runners.
Catcher Shelby Davis not only kept people on their toes with her chatter. She was also good at picking off runners and throwing out would be base stealers.
The outfield of Shelby Brown, Jasmine Butler, and Alexis Sims covered the ground and communicated well with each other. Ashley Caine, Gracie Schultz, and Devin Bankert played outfield too. Schultz also caught when needed.
Mary Stroup filled in at first base, and Taylor Nelson, at third. Nelson even pitched in a pinch.
But when it came down to it, most of the girls could play other positions when needed.
“The played where they were needed and didn’t argue,” Heard said. “They supported one another. If one made an error, then others would tell her to shake it off and correct it with her next play, and that’s what they did.
“We had a strong defensive team, and they stepped up and stopped a lot of runs. …We made a lot more double plays than we’d done in the past. They all knew where they were going with the ball. It was very enjoyable to watch.”
On offense, the girls were smart hitters who could spray the ball around.
Heard also entered his team in Chambersburg’s Stars and Stripes tournament June 30-July 1. He entered as a 16-under C team but, due to a lack of 18-under teams, the tournament officials combined the two age groups into one 18-under bracket.
No matter — the Hot Shots went 4-1 and won that one too.
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“I told the girls that I was very proud of them and couldn’t be prouder,” Heard said. “I said it wasn’t the coaches who won the games [this year]. It’s you girls. We’re just there to support you and point you in the right direction.”
He plans to add a couple of players next year as USSSA elevates the Hot Shots to the 18-under age bracket.