Lyle-Pacelli starts up a varsity softball program after three year hiatus

Published 5:49pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

LYLE – The Lyle-Pacelli softball team is looking to shake off some dust this season.

After not having a varsity program for the past three springs, the Athletics have found 14 players that want to play varsity softball and the program is getting a fresh start under first year head coach Jeff Yocom, who has experience coaching summer softball and youth baseball.

Jeff Yocom is the new head coach of the Lyle-Pacelli softball team. The Athletics haven't had a varsity softball team in three years. -- Rocky Hulne/
Jeff Yocom is the new head coach of the Lyle-Pacelli softball team. The Athletics haven’t had a varsity softball team in three years. — Rocky Hulne/

Starting a program has been a mad scramble for Yocom as he had to get himself certified and he’s been looking to get the team uniforms and equipment in time for its 12-game season, which is slated to begin April 8. LP, which has fielded a middle school team in the past few years, has 14 players on its roster and just one of those players is a junior or older. About half of the players are seventh graders.

“We’re going to be very, very young. Half of our starters will probably seventh or eighth graders,” Yocom said. “From day one, these girls have really been with this program. Every day they’ve worked their tails off and they’re happy to have a team.”

LP’s junior high team went undefeated last season, and that inspired Yocom to make a move to get a varsity program this spring. The team is pretty much starting from scratch as most of the players haven’t played against a high school player in softball before.

“It’s my program and we’re really pushing,” Yocom said. “I’m trying to give these girls every opportunity to succeed that I can.”

Yocom said the team has some quality athletes as Courtney Walter and Brooke Walter will play softball after playing big minutes for LP’s basketball team this past winter.

“Courtney hasn’t played in a couple of years, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by watching her. Brooke is probably one of our best players,” Yocom said. “They’ve been around softball and baseball all of their lives.”

LP will look to freshman Bethany Strouf and seventh grader Faith King to pitch. The Athletics are short on numbers and experience, but Yocom said he has a hard working group that has already made some progress in just a week and a half of practice.

“We’ll be pretty good defensively and we’ll be quick. The girls like to run and if we can get on the base paths, we’ll do decent,” Yocom said.

The Athletics will play a full Southeast Conference schedule and they’ll open the season  with a doubleheader at Mabel-Canton April 8 at 3:30 p.m. LP will play its home games at Todd Park and its home opener is against Alden-Conger April 14 at 4:30 p.m.

The last time LP had a softball team was the spring of 2010 and they finished 3-15 overall that season.


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