Senior helps Lady Scorps get off to a good start with grand slam
FARMINGTON — Last season was not kind to the Farmington softball team.
The Lady Scorps were young and inexperienced, and it showed on the field as they crawled to a 5-21 record. But that was last year, and the Lady Scorps are already well on their way to putting the struggles of 2016 behind them.
Farmington opened its season this morning against Bloomfield during the Linda Crabtree Softball Challenge and was better than its 2016 version in every way en route to a 9-5 win over the Lady Bobcats at the Farmington Sports Complex.
Helping lead the way for the Lady Scorps was senior Brianna Blades, who blasted a two-out grand slam in the first inning.
"I definitely wasn't expecting that. It felt really good to get the team off to a good start with a grand slam," Blades said. "It was a huge boost for me, and I think it was (a boost) for a lot of the girls, too."
As one of only a few seniors on this year's roster, Blades is making the transition into a leadership role for Farmington.
Lady Scorpions coach Tim Trotter said Blades' ability to take on the leadership role will be of great importance as she and the rest of the upperclassmen on the team will be needed to keep the younger members of the team mentally and emotionally in control.
"I think where the older kids like Brianna can really come into play is calming everyone down and slowing it back down for the kids who don't have that experience," Trotter said. "We certainly have a lot of growth left, but I think we're on the right path."
On the field, Blades has made a significant jump from last year. Trotter said that Blades has the ability to change the game with a single swing of her bat, like she did against Bloomfield, but her improvement on defense has been the most impressive.
"I think she's really grown. Last year, defensively, she had some issues, but I think she's gotten a lot better. She really stepped it up," Trotter said.
Although the win over Bloomfield was only the first step in a long trek this season, both Blades and Trotter said the team dynamic this year is far different than it was a year ago.
Last season, the Lady Scorps were more of a collection of cliques than a real team, and the primary focus during the offseason was to build chemistry.
The players spent the offseason doing team bonding activities and volunteering around Farmington. The work has paid off so far, with Blades saying her teammates are more comfortable with each other.
The comfort and trust the Lady Scorps have in each other is already leading to a better product on the field, and it might be enough to push Farmington back into the state tournament in May.
"It would mean a lot if we made it to state. I haven't gone since my freshman year, and this is my last year," Blades said. "I think we could get into the top five by the end of the season if we keep clicking together and working every day."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.