Youth movement leads Fisher softball
FISHER — These softball freshmen can play.
It was true in the Fisher High School program in 2010 when Kalli Gosser made her debut with the Bunnies and earned all-conference first-team honors.
Gosser is now a senior on a team where ninth-graders are starters at second base (Emilee Schwing), shortstop (Toree Stalter) and third base (Molly Fairfield).
Each of the freshmen drove in a run Tuesday — accounting for all of the Bunnies’ scoring — as top-seeded Fisher advanced into Saturday’s Class 1A regional championship game with a 3-1 win against Blue Ridge.
“There were a lot of nerves,” Stalter said, “but the seniors told us we can do this.”
It helps, she said, that she’s not the only athlete from her class that’s in the lineup.
“That calms my nerves,” Stalter said.
Stalter’s run-scoring single in the fourth inning drove in Taylor Hadden with the run that broke a 1-1 deadlock.
“Toree’s two-out hit was a big one,” Fisher coach Ken Ingold said.
The Bunnies (14-9) scored in the bottom of an inning where Gosser preserved a tie. Playing center field, Gosser fielded a single by Blue Ridge’s Brianna Davis and rifled a throw to catcher Leah Williams for an inning-ending putout.
“That was a big throw that turned the momentum to our side,” Ingold said.
Gosser returned to the lineup after missing two games. She and teammate Kelcie Fredrickson collided last week against LeRoy, and Gosser broke two orbital bones behind her eye.
“She doesn’t need surgery,” Ingold said, “but her vision is not 100 percent. She feels more comfortable there (outfield).”
Until last week, Gosser played shortstop and Stalter was a fixture in center field.
Ingold had no doubts Stalter could do the job at a new position.
“She has played a lot of shortstop in summer ball,” he said.
The offseason program is why the school’s ninth-graders come in prepared to contribute.
“These girls have been in big summer games before,” Ingold said. “These freshmen are getting better and better.”
If you listen to Fisher assistant coach Kevin Gosser, with eight days left in the school year and 23 varsity games on their resume, “they’re not really freshmen anymore.”
Fisher’s second win of the year against Blue Ridge was harder than the first.
“Blue Ridge has improved immensely and made it tough for us,” Ingold said.
Blue Ridge, which starts six sophomores and three juniors, played what coach Wayne Brown said was “our best game of the year.”
The Knights outhit Fisher 9-6 and also had an outfielder (left fielder Mackenzie Beck) throw out a runner at the plate. Blue Ridge played errorless defense behind pitcher Megan Tsevelekos.
“The girls were very focused,” Brown said. “We just didn’t group our hits together. We finished on a high note.”
Beck and Davis each had two hits for Blue Ridge.
Leadoff batter Schwing was the only Fisher player with more than one hit. She was 2 for 3 and drove in Sydney Baker with an insurance run in the fifth inning.
Ingold said one reason Fisher has few wayward throws at first base is the defensive play of Baker around the bag.
“Sydney does a great job,” Ingold said. “If the ball gets by her, it has to really be an errant throw.”
Fredrickson (12-2) struck out two and walked one. Between the second and sixth innings, she recorded 11 of 15 outs on balls to infielders.
“When her pitches are working, she gets a lot of ground balls,” Ingold said. “Kelcie did a nice job.”
Fisher will play the winner of tonight’s Salt Fork/Schlarman game in Saturday’s 11 a.m. title game. The Bunnies are seeking their first regional championship ever in softball.