Sans seniors, IR softball still winning

Special to the Sussex County Post/Bill Mitchell Indian River softball coach Erika Brittingham has her Indians off to a 3-1 start this spring.

Special to the Sussex County Post/Bill Mitchell
Indian River softball coach Erika Brittingham has her Indians off to a 3-1 start this spring.

SEAFORD — Last year, Erika Brittingham became the head coach of a multi-senior led Indian River High School softball program guided led them to a winning season that ended in the second round of the state tournament.

This year, Brittingham’s Lady Indians team is much different considering the roster is without a senior.

Yet, though this year’s team is without the benefit of senior leadership, it has started the season almost the same as 2014.

Last season IR was a perfect 4-0 through the first two weeks, while this year’s team is off to a 3-1 start with the only defeat to a Polytech squad that has thus far not allow a run

“This year is a lot different than last year,” said Brittingham. “The way we are practicing is different and the way we are structuring our team bonding is different.”

The obvious reason for the difference is the number of players without varsity experience.

“This team is very challenging with plenty of ups and downs,” Brittingham said. “Unlike last year, we need to continue to remind them of the small things that need to be done in order to win games.

“However, I do feel that not having the senior leadership we had last year has brought this team closer together because they are all closer in age.
While this year’s team is without a senior it doesn’t mean it lacks leaders.

“This year’s juniors are taking on a good leadership role because they are the only upperclassmen on the team,” said Brittingham. “They are doing a great job and they will only become better leaders as this season continues.”

The coaching staff is also experiencing growth.

“This is our second year together as the coaching staff of the team,” said Brittingham, who is assisted by Abi Buchler and Catherine Bennett. “We love our job and having a young team is nice because we know that we are working for the next couple of years with the same team.

“We have made the players aware of what’s ahead by talking to them after playing a team like Polytech. After we played Polytech we told them that kind of experience is what we have to look forward to, which they are very receptive.”

Brittingham went on to say that the overall success of IR’s girls’ programs is also helpful.

“They love the school and they want to do whatever they can to have a successful team,” she said. “There’s no greater reward for us than to see our girls and our program grow over the seasons.”

The Lady Indians and coaching staff are taking the good 3-1 start in stride.

“We really didn’t set an expectation on this season,” Brittingham said. “We play game-to-game by working on the game at hand and not looking ahead.

“It’s all about not looking ahead to things like the playoffs or anything else that can take our minds off the current game.”
For that reason, the team’s goals are different than most of their Henlopen Conference counterparts.

“All we want to do is to do the best we can do,” Brittingham said. “We have our chart of things that we want to accomplish during a game. So, we don’t focus on a win or loss, but we focus on the things we did or didn’t do that got us there.”

Among the things that have impressed Brittingham is the reaction of the Lady Indians following their only loss of the season thus far.
“I think the hardest they have practiced this year is the one after our loss to Polytech,” she said. “What it showed me is that they really want to win and that they don’t want to get a loss like that again.”

Up next for the Lady Indians are three consecutive home games beginning with Delmar Saturday at 11 a.m., followed by Sussex Tech Tuesday and Milford Friday with both games starting at 4:15 p.m.

Bill Mitchell can be reached at sussexpost@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.