Sparks labored through a 2-21 season and a 2-10 record in Mount Rose League play. Despite the rough year, Sparks head coach Frank Avilla said there are signs of hope for his team heading into the new season.
“If you go back to our record from last year and you look at us being winless in league play and other games, in 16 of those games we were one hit away from winning games,” Avilla said. “So that was a bright spot for me. I’m not too much for moral victories anymore. So that was a bright spot for us last season and I think we’re going to build on that.”
With nowhere to go but up, the Railroaders are keeping their goals simple.
“We’re trying to slowly turn it around here,” Avilla said. “We have a new group of freshman
that have come in. We have a committed group of sophomores, juniors and seniors. There’s a solid group of kids that have been with us for a couple of years. We want to just take it one game at a time and try to compete at a very good and conscientious level to be successful in what we’re trying to accomplish.
“That’s where we are starting on our goals and expectations for the season. We want to compete to the best of our abilities and to start learning the game more thoroughly so that we can get better at it.”
Losing seven seniors from last year’s squad, including first team all-league honoree Gabby Durante and second teamer Michelle Vega, Sparks will start anew with the basics of the game in order to improve from last year.
“I look for little victories over here,” Avilla said. “Softball is new to a lot of the girls so I’m looking at things like, are the kids who have never thrown before, throwing properly? We work hard with athletes. Not that any other school doesn’t, because they do too, but over here the fact of the matter is sometimes we get athletes that softball isn’t their main sport. Maybe they’ve only played it as a little leaguer. Now they’re trying again as a high schooler.
“That’s why I like it over here, because they’re able to come here and play. We give them an opportunity that they might not get somewhere else. Don’t take that as us taking the game lightly. We want to win. I think we’re on the right path to do that. We have some dedicated kids that can get us there.”
Losing their games by an average score of 13-2 (Sparks was outscored 276-45) the Railroaders will need to progress significantly in a number of areas to ensure that it finds the path Avilla has set forth.
“We just have to be more consistent up at bat and we need to know the game a little bit more,” Avilla said. “We as coaches have to do a better job of teaching the game and not assuming they know it just because we’re in high school.”
The Maroon and Gold coaching staff is keeping its focus on teaching the fundamentals of the diamond.
Sparks opens its season today as it hosts Hug at 4 p.m.