WAYNE – After missing out on the state softball tournament for just the second time in the past 12 years, Wayne High began the NSAA fall sports practice schedule earlier this week in preparation for the 2021 season.
After a busy summer softball season, it’s been just over a month since players were able to compete for the Dirt Devils in late June/early July.
Head coach Rob Sweetland said the players were still lifting and conditioning over the summer but had some time off following their summer tournaments.
“It’s still a hard thing to organize your first week when you got a bunch of different aged kids that played with different teams,” said Sweetland. “So again, it’s a start, we got a good start and we’ll just keep trying to get better.”
The Blue Devil softball team ended their season in the district tournament with back-to-back losses to Grand Island Central Catholic in Class B of 7-6 and 15-2. WHS ended 2020 with a 20-9 record.
The 2021 Wayne High softball team will be made up of 20 players which is on the higher end of numbers for coach Sweetland and assistant coach Kiley Koch.
“It’s a lot for two coaches to handle,” Sweetland added. “We got to be really organized and some girls have to understand they’re not going to get the amount of reps that some of the starters will get as the season goes on. Right now, we’re just trying to evaluate everybody the same way.”
Eight players saw time in the starting rotation on the diamond and in the batting line-up who will look to provide experience for Wayne High in order to make another late season push. Coach Sweetland will also be expecting some of the new faces to step up this fall.
“So, there’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of kids fighting for positions,” Sweetland mentioned. “It’s going to be one of the tougher years as far as managing to try to get everybody to understand their roles I think will be important.”
Wayne High will be hosting Norfolk High in a varsity only jamboree scheduled for Thursday, August 12 at 5:30 p.m. from the Wayne Softball Complex.
The Wayne High softball team will begin their 2021 campaign with a road outing at Blair on Thursday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m. WHS will then host their own tourney on Saturday, August 21 starting at 9:30 a.m. featuring teams of Arlington, Centura/Central Valley, Highway 91, Ord, Pierce, Ponca and Twin River. The Blue Devils will then conclude the month of August at O’Neill on Tuesday, August 24 and at Bishop Neumann on Tuesday, August 31 for a triangular with Highway 91.