By Tony Hooker
When talking to area sport aficionados, the strength of the Villa Grove softball program invariably gets mentioned. The success starts with the travel teams at the younger ages, and progresses into the junior high program, which has won four regional titles, made an elite eight appearance in 2016 and won the 2015 state championship in its five years of existence.
This year’s edition appears to be poised to add to the hardware collection, sporting a 10-1 regular season record and earning the #1 seed in the upcoming regional. I recently sat down with Floyd Fisher, who has taken over the reins for 2019.
How long have you been involved with the program?
Since the beginning, so five years. This is my first year as head coach.
What is the strength of your 2019 team?
I would say it’s our experience. We have 11 eighth graders on the team, and 10 of them have played in the past, including seven or eight of our starters.
As we all know, pitching is key in softball. How has your pitching been this year?
We’re lucky in that we have two pitchers who would be number 1’s on just about any other team in the area. Alex Brown is more of a finesse pitcher, while Kaitlin Drew is more of a power pitcher. They both have that Bulldog, not going to lose mentality.
How has the defense been?
The defense behind them has been pretty solid.
How about the offensive attack?
From top to bottom, everyone in our lineup has contributed. There aren’t any easy outs. It’s tough to single out one player, but Alison Pangburn has been our most consistent offensive contributor this year.
How are you feeling about regional tournament play?
We earned the number one seed, so we feel pretty good. We just have to play our game and not worry about anything else.
You’re hosting the regional this year. Is that an advantage for your team?
Absolutely. Our team doesn’t have to change clothes at school and jump on a bus. Also, our field is a little different than others in the area, and we feel comfortable playing here.
Not wanting to look too far ahead, but there is a potential rematch versus the Heyworth team that ended your 2018 season in the sectional championship game (in a classic 1-0 extra inning contest) looming in the sectional.
They lost a lot from last year’s team to graduation, and Colfax is actually the #1 seed and they’re really good.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Just that our team is proud to represent Villa Grove, and we would love for fans to come out and support us.