The Warwick Vets Middle School softball team kicked off its season recently, jumping out to a hot 2-0 start with wins over Narragansett Pier and Winman, by combined scores of 32-5.
The Hurricanes had a successful season in 2018, winning the division with a 12-1 record and clinching a postseason berth. However, Vets’ season was cut short in the semifinals when eventual champion Coventry took home the win.
Vets returns much of its core from last year, and has also introduced a new batch of sixth graders to the lineup. Vets coach Rich Hough believes that this year’s club will be carried by its offense.
“Offensively our team is very, very strong. We bring back a lot of eighth graders and we have a lot of really good seventh and six graders. Everyone on the team hits, we had 17 kids play (against Winman) and all of them hit the ball. We’ve got a great hitting team,” said Hough, who believes that hard work at practice, as well as competing year-round, is what has led to the team’s success at the plate. “They come from a local program; they all play travel. At practice we are working on hitting every day. We are doing tee work, we’re doing soft toss, long tee work, live pitching behind the net. We also do a lot of inter-squad scrimmages so these girls are facing live pitching every day, not just during games.”
Despite losing a handful of eighth graders to high school, Hough believes that this team is just as good, if not better than last year.
“We lost some really great players that are now playing at Pilgrim … but I still think that we’re a little bit better than last year when you look at what we have on offense and defense. This is also the first year that Warwick has included sixth graders which is huge because it gives them a chance to learn, build and grow with the team and really learn from the eighth graders,” said Hough.
The key to winning will be taking it one step at a time according to Hough, and focusing on the task at hand each day on the field.
“Since tryouts we’ve been going by the old cliché, ‘The Road to RIC.’ We’ve been try to take it one game at a time, we keep telling them that the most important game is the next one. I think if we can get there then we have a good shot at winning it. We just need to take it one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time,” said Hough. “This start had been huge for their confidence, especially (the win against WInman) who is our rival. It lets the kids know that, ‘Hey we can do this,’ so getting these first few wins, especially against some good pitchers, has been great for our club.”