Tonawanda News — Kenmore East softball coach Sara Ark knows that life in the Niagara Frontier League is never easy and that every day is a battle. She also knows that win or lose, her girls are a group she can be proud of.
“They’re just great kids,” Ark said. “They come every day, I haven’t heard one complaint. They work hard. They do what I ask. They’re always prepared and they’re ready to go. So it’s been a smooth start.”
As the Lady Bulldogs move into the new season they do so minus key players like Jaclyn Bellanti, who was one of their most consistent hitters, and 2012 Tonawanda News Player of the Year Gabe Boldinski (shortstop) who was the emotional and spiritual leader of the team.
But change is the nature of the beast in scholastic sports and the Bulldogs have a cast of talented girls ready to step up and lead.
The Bulldogs return junior starting catcher Gabbie Johns, who was a captain last season, as well as junior Julia Snitzer (middle infield) and senior Jessica Hyland (3B).
“We graduated some amazing athletes that had great personalities and big personalities. There’s a lot that’s changed this year,” Ark said. “The returning players are stepping up and they’re beginning to fill those roles the way that they need to. And the underclassmen that have moved up from JV are held to the same standards and are working hard to take their place.”
While every girl has to pull her weight, Johns, Hyland and Snitzer know the expectations are on them to set the right tone every day in practice and in games.
“The dynamics have definitely changed. It’s essentially role reversal I guess (for) me, Jess and Julia,” Johns said. “Even though I was a captain last year I was still learning from the veterans. I think we’re just hoping to do the same thing. Just make them feel comfortable, welcome them in and let them know that varsity isn’t a scary thing. And we want to create a good, family environment so we can really build off of that.”