(Atlantic) -- The Atlantic softball team got a scare from Clarinda on Thursday night. After a seventh-inning rally led to a 3-2 win for the Trojans, they quickly regrouped and put up 17 runs in another outstanding performance that is becoming very common with the program.
Coach Terry Hinzmann’s team is now 17-1 on the season, have yet to lose a Hawkeye Ten Conference contest and are ranked No. 10 in the latest Class 3A poll. All of that is certainly impressive, but what makes it even more noteworthy is that they’re doing it after losing generational talents like Ally Anderson and Alexis Handel.
“The girls we’ve plugged in are doing a fantastic job,” Coach Terry Hinzmann said.
It starts in the circle where sophomore Olivia Engler has stepped in for Anderson and had posted a 1.92 ERA and a 12-0 record through 14 appearances this season. Engler’s strikeout and walk totals are also reminiscent of Anderson, putting down 91 on strikes and walking just 18.
“With somebody in the circle like her that can minimize big innings; if you give up a run or two – you can survive that,” Hinzmann said. “That’s what she’s done so far.”
At the plate, it’s been an amalgam of standouts chipping in their most outstanding abilities. Senior Baylee Newell leads the way with a .537 batting average and .581 on-base percentage while sophomore Alyssa Derby smacked her fifth home run of the season on Thursday night and is slugging a team-best .771.
“The girls we’ve used to replace Alexis and Ally at the plate have done a fantastic job,” Hinzmann said.
Engler (.396 batting average) and fellow sophomores Kennedy Goergen (.405) and Madison Botos (.359), juniors McKenzie Waters (.362) and Reagan Pellett (.289) and senior Karsyn Rush (.370) are other offensive standouts.
“It’s a little different,” Hinzmann added. “We’re not in the position where we can just hit balls over the fence, but we rely a little more on speed and moving runners around.”
Newell leads the team with 23 stolen bases in 24 attempts while Waters is 13 of 14 and Rush is 10 of 11. And they’re not alone as the Trojans have 78 steals with statistics updated through their 10-0 win over Denison-Schleswig on Tuesday.
Success in the Atlantic program is probably not a surprise, but the kind of success they are having through 18 games – without Anderson and Handel and other standouts that have recently graduated – just shows the kind of program that has been built.
“I think the key to any good program is to get the young girls involved,” Hinzmann said. “We start very young with third and fourth graders and get them to know some of the varsity girls that we have. Get them to want to kind of be like they are and be a part of the program. These girls went through the clinics and are excited about softball year-round.”
Atlantic is back in action today at the Fort Dodge Invitational. The Trojans open the 16-team bracketed tournament with Class 5A No. 11 Muscatine at 1:00 PM.
Listen to the complete interview with Coach Hinzmann below