Prep softball

Wheeler senior first-year starters provide lift to softball team

2013-04-26T17:00:00Z 2013-04-26T22:39:17Z Wheeler senior first-year starters provide lift to softball teamJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com

Position switches a day before the opener and a two-week layoff due to inclement weather haven't deterred the senior seasons for either Wheeler's Amber McGinley or Alex Sanchez.

Sanchez has played softball for 13 years, McGinley since fourth grade, and both are now first-time starters.

"We're just happy to get a chance to play," Sanchez said. "There's a little more pressure, and you just have to take a couple of deep breaths."

Coach Marc Bruner is breathing easier since both players have stepped up. Sanchez was batting .389 through six games, while McGinley was hitting .333 with a team-high six RBIs.

"They've had some varsity call-ups before, but they never had the playing time," Bruner said of his duo. "They've been even more reliable then I thought they would be. I couldn't be happier for to see this happen for them."

McGinley spent the preseason at third base, while Sanchez was in right field. Bruner felt uneasy and he made the late change.

"Once we got outside, it just didn't feel right; I knew we had to make the switch," Bruner said. "Amber has got the strongest arm on the team.

"Sanchez is now really close to the plate, but she's been able to figure out what to do."

McGinley remains active in right field, since not many hitters will pull ace Nickole Finch, while Sanchez feels comfortable in her first chance at third base.

"She moves really well in the outfield," Bruner said of McGinley. "It's a busy spot."

"I think my parents were more scared about it than me," Sanchez said. "I don't get distracted, because something is always happening."

Both players also kept busy in practice when games were not an option. Wheeler's first game back was last Monday against North Newton.

"It was kind of irritating to stay playing and then not have any games," McGinley said. "Having the two weeks off wasn't fun for me, and I was worried about being rusty, so I kept working hard in practice."

"I never lost the motivation to practice," Sanchez added. "I kept my eyes on the next chance to play."

Both players have also made adjustments to the new roles. McGinley is active in theater, but she gave up taking part in the spring production to focus full time on softball. Sanchez was switched to hitting form the left side as a slapper full time

"I know (coach Bruner) challenged me about exclusively hitting for the left side," Sanchez said. "I didn't want to be hit for, so I just kept my focus."

"I couldn't fit in the schedule," McGinley said, "so I had to give something up."

They just didn't give up on their dreams of starting on varsity.

"It's pretty awesome to be in this position," McGinley said. "I might have been freaked out starting as a freshman. Playing (junior varsity) helped. (The wait) has made the feeling so much better."

 

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