Rangers relying on youth and versatility

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Forest Park sophomore Lydia Betz gets ready to throw the ball in a drill during a recent practice in Ferdinand.

FERDINAND — As he expressed his knowledge through written and spoken words, John C. Maxwell immersed himself in the value of leadership. The author and speaker once said, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

No seniors will suit up for the Forest Park softball team this season, but Rangers head coach Kelly Schroering has pinpointed several movers and shakers across the squad’s young roster.

“We’ve got juniors who can definitely lead us,” Schroering said. "They’ve been leading us at practice. We really only have two girls who returned from two years ago — Ali Welp and Madison Wathen. I think both of those girls will be key contributors.”

Those juniors will take the field alongside classmates Madi Begle, Emma Welp and Anna Striegel. The Rangers’ sophomore group is their largest. Macey Geyer, Carley Begle, Mya Englert, Katelyn Hassfurther, Nicaya Hopf and Lydia Betz will also suit up for them this year. Freshmen Avery Riley and Brooke Rasche are the team’s youngest players.

The spring is young, but the Rangers’ early practices have yielded fruitful returns.

“Pitching and defense is huge for our game,” Schroering said. “As we go through the early part of the season and play games, it’s just going to be about seeing our best lineup. I feel very confident in putting a good lineup out there. It’s just trying to find our best pieces — the flexibility helps us with that. We can say, ‘Hey, here’s another thing that we can try.’ More than ever, this team is really flexible. I see a lot of good work ethics.”

Schroering lauded the Pocket Athletic Conference for its robust competition. Forest Park will face a gauntlet of talented teams, but she wants the Rangers to play their best softball in May.

“You can’t take a break,” Schroering said. “Every game you play is a tough team in our conference and in our sectional. Every night out, the PAC gets us ready for the sectional. Of course, we play some of those same teams in our sectional — Tecumseh, North Posey, Tell City. There’s just a lot of good softball here in Southern Indiana. We’re playing tough teams every night. You have to be ready to play.”

While the Rangers lace their cleats and pack their bat bags, attitudes of gratitude reign supreme.

“We had that conversation as a team,” Schroering said. “We’re just going to enjoy every day that we get to go play.”

Schroering graduated from Forest Park in 2004 and has developed a keen understanding for the responsibilities at hand. Her persistent passion permeates throughout the program.

“In a lot of ways, I’m very proud to wear the green and gold,” Schroering said. “I want to keep carrying on the tradition and make sure that I’m representing us by putting the best team on the field that we can. It’s because of the pride I feel for the school. I know how much that matters to me. Our coaching staff tries to keep building that tradition. It’s all I’ve ever worn at the high school level, so I’m happy to represent Forest Park.”

The Rangers will embark on their journey’s next leg in just a few short days. Forest Park begins the regular season at 5 p.m. March 29 at Springs Valley.

“The girls are working hard, and that’s all I can ask for at this part of the season,” Schroering said. “They’re excited. They’re putting forth their best effort every day at practice.”

More on DuboisCountyHerald.com