New Parker softball coach preaches fundamentals
JANESVILLE--Alli Driscoll is preaching fundamentals in her first year at Janesville Parker.
So far, the Vikings’ new coach likes what she sees, though outdoor work has come at a premium this spring.
Parker, which was 5-16 overall and 5-13 in the Big Eight Conference in 2013, is scheduled to open its season with a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Janesville Youth Sports Complex.
“Our shirts say ‘Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong,’” Driscoll said. “It’s about working hard, and I think that’s what is going to get us the furthest right now.”
Driscoll learned about work ethic while playing her way through the ranks at Beloit Turner High and later at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. After coaching traveling teams, she’s excited to begin her varsity coaching career.
“I’ve just always wanted to coach high school ball, and the girls here are great,” Driscoll said. “They just want to get better and do well. They listen and understand what’s going on. You can’t teach that; that’s something you have to have.”
That attitude starts with Parker’s small-yet-strong senior class, starting with a pair of players who will regularly be a part of the Vikings’ battery.
Ashlie Homan is the team’s most experienced returning pitcher, and Andrea Coles leads the way behind the plate.
“Ashlie brings that steadiness and seniority and the leadership,” Driscoll said. “Andrea is another senior, and we’re super lucky to have her here. She’s an amazing player and amazing kid. You couldn’t ask for anybody better behind the plate to lead your team.”
Driscoll has just three other seniors. Hannah Muehlenkamp and Heather Bailey return from the varsity squad last year, and Tori McCann is returning after a year away.
“The senior class that we have is great—they’re small (in numbers), but they’re fantastic,” Driscoll said. “They’re on board with the goal of getting better every day and getting better every game.”
And they’ll be expected to lead a young group that has plenty of question marks heading into the season.
Along with Homan, the Vikings will lean on a pair of sophomore pitchers, Brenna Diehls and Kiana Johnson.
Among six juniors opening the season on the roster, Driscoll expects Haley Avery and Michaela Byrne to be quick contributors in the infield. And returning varsity starter Sidney Litke will patrol center field.
“She has great leadership on the field, so that’ll really help,” Driscoll said.
But there is competition all around the diamond, and playing time will be up for grabs early. Juniors Erin Augustine, Chandler Johnson and Kyslee Greve, as well as sophmoroe Marquia Below, will get their share of looks as roles are sorted out.
“We had a little work to do at the beginning, but they listened and they’ve been receptive to new ideas and they’re excited to work hard,” Driscoll said. “I’m so proud of them for being excited to put the work in.”