Team Chemistry Leading Bowie Softball into 2016 Season

Bowie softball has been hit by the graduation bug as hard as any team over the past two seasons.

The Bulldogs have lost 11 starters to graduation since 2014, when the team won the 4A South regional title. Bowie had a rebuilding season last year in which the team surpassed expectations, but lost a few key players from that team.

This year's team only has four returning starters from last year's lineup, which means the Bulldogs have been working harder in the offseason than usual.

"Our goal for the season is to be as competitive as possible in every game we play," head coach Luanne Smith said. "Expectations are that we will work hard all season and grow together as a team."

Bowie's hard work has paid dividends early this season with a confidence boosting 3-0 start to 2016.

The Bulldogs haven't just been winning, but winning big. The closest contest Bowie has had is a 10-1 decision against Largo. The other two games have been won by 20-plus runs against Frederick Douglass and High Point.

"We have benefited from many walks during the first three games. Even though the middle part of the order has struggled, we've gotten timely hitting from other parts of the batting order," Smith said. "The team has been pretty patient at the plate thus far and they are driving pitches they know they can hit."

On the mound, junior Taylor Lee has had a bright beginning to 2016. Lee put together a sensational performance against Largo in which she struck out 14 batters. She's been joined by fellow junior Amanda Clore, who pitched well in the team's victory over High Point.

The team's defense has been strong for the pitchers. New catchers Lyndsey Ricketts and Hope Reiter, a sophomore and junior respectively, have been a consistent influence behind the plate. Outfield play has been excellent for Bowie with Taylor Thompson, Jolisa Stoutt and Victoria Payne, a trio of seniors, making few mistakes. The infield's strength is at the corner positions with junior third baseman Kelsey Adams and junior first baseman Taylor Koebler playing at an elite level. The up the middle combination of juniors Randi Graham and Khadeja Stoutt have been making strides as they've been forced to make the transition from outfield to infield.

While the team's play has been exciting, Smith is more encouraged by the chemistry the group shares away from the diamond.

"There seems to be a sense of togetherness that will help the team during the trying times of a season," Smith said.

While the team's season will certainly have ups and downs, Smith is hopeful Bowie will be able to compete with the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Oxon Hill and Laurel. If the team's start is any indication, the Bulldogs could be in store for another vintage Bowie softball season.

"Bowie softball has a long tradition of being a competitive team, and we hope to live up to that tradition," Smith said. "We will work really hard to earn wearing the uniform."
March 31st, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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