One of coach Kelly Anderson's goals at Syracuse was to get his first-year softball program started off on the right foot.
He hasn't been disappointed.
The Titans, with no seniors on their roster (or in their school), put together a respectable 3-3-1 record in the preseason. They now have hopes of reaching the state tournament and being a factor in Region 1 play, which begins today.
"We came in knowing just a handful of kids," Anderson said. "Considering the preseason we had and who we played, we've done well. We're headed in the right direction."
No one questions Anderson's credentials after a successful 14-year run at Bountiful High. But Syracuse's sports teams have struggled this year while having to play against older, more experienced players. Softball wasn't expected to be any different.
If the preseason was any indication, however, the softball program will enjoy more success than Syracuse's other sports teams this year. The teams that have faced the Titans have come away impressed. And Syracuse has been in all of its games, as its three losses came by one run apiece.
Syracuse owns wins over Brighton, Highland and Pine View.
"They're a pretty good team," said Roy assistant softball coach Travis Flint. "I would not be surprised to see the softball team win more games than the rest of the athletic department combined this year."
Flint said Anderson's presence is a big reason for his belief that the Titans will do well in Region 1.
"His kids are always going to be prepared and they'll always have a good understanding of the game," Flint said. "They've got some good kids, but he does a good job with them. They play aggressive, they play hard, and they play smart."
Leading the way for Syracuse is sophomore shortstop Sarah Basinger. She is one of the team's top all-around players, as she rarely makes an error and had some clutch hits in the preseason.
Having a freshman battery might give some coaches ulcers, but that hasn't been the case for Anderson. So far, pitcher Ashley Ostler and catcher Mylee Davis have formed a steady team. Ostler isn't the most overpowering pitcher in the state, but she throws like a veteran, as she hits spots and keeps hitters off balance.
"She's getting better and better every day we come out here," Anderson said. "She's going to keep us in games."
Ostler said she hasn't found it to be overwhelming to play against more experienced teams.
"It's a challenge," she said. "You get to step up your game and show everyone else what you can do. Knowing we can play with older kids means in the next few years we'll be just as good."
The future does look bright for Syracuse's softball program, but that doesn't mean it should be counted out as a playoff contender in its inaugural season."I'm pretty proud of what we've accomplished thus far," Anderson said. "We'll surprise people because we're not going to beat ourselves. I don't think we're going to get blown out because we'll battle people to the end. People are starting to step up and understand their roles. We'll get better as the year goes on."
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