Falcons' first tests come today

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010

They are young and inexperienced, but such is the plight of all Thunder Mountain first-year sports programs. Softball is no different.

Shaun T. Cox / Juneau Empire
Shaun T. Cox / Juneau Empire

The Falcons have been working every day, starting with fundamentals and slowly mixing in some of the finer points of the game, as they prepare for their first tests today, beginning at 1 p.m. with Sitka at Melvin Park in a Southeast Conference doubleheader.

"It's a big challenge. They're all green," manager Jorge Cordero said of his fresh-faced Falcons, which number in excess of 30 girls. "It's a lot of work, but we don't mind. We don't mind that at all, and we've definitely seen results since practice started about a month and a half ago.

"They're all nervous and understandably so, but we have good attitudes and the will to be here. That's what you look for as a coach, so we're going to have some fun."

Softball and baseball start with pitching, and the Falcons have a lot of girls who are giving the circle a try for the first time. Junior Anna Bullock is the veteran of the bunch with prior experience, and will be the Falcons' No. 1 starter.

"We are trying to develop some pitchers. We have Anna as our No. 1 pitcher, and we have Devyn Kubley as our backup," Cordero said. "There is some talent and by next year, they'll be good. They are willing to put the work in."

Backing up Bullock will be Michelle Manning at first base, and Jonelle Staveland at second. Jacki Mallinger will fill the hole at short stop, and Kubley will man the hot corner at third. Darian Musielak will call the game behind the plate.

Madison Wells will generally patrol center field, though she is injured and won't play this weekend. Filling in will be Katherine Wray. Megan Punongbayan and Adrien Speegle will start in left and right, respectively.

"That's who's starting (for now), and then we'll see and move pieces around," Cordero said. "We haven't played any games, and basically we just got out here (on the field) about a week and a half ago. We've been inside the auxiliary gym, which just isn't the same."

The lineup also is fluid at this point, but Mallinger will likely lead off, and Kubley will bat cleanup. Bullock will bat No. 3.

They don't expect to come out and set the world on fire, but the Falcons do expect to be competitive.

When the team's youth was pointed out, Bullock responded by saying he as "a fun team," noting that the girls plan to be more than just cannon fodder for more experienced teams.

"We're all out here making mistakes, but we support each other any way," she said. "Everybody is really underestimating us, and I think we can do some damage this year. Our sports have been making an impact, we want to continue that. Our baseball team won their first games ever, and we expect to do the same thing.

"But it's hard to start from scratch, and we're not expecting to just go out and beat the best teams out there."

Bullock said the girls are ready for game action after a month and a half of drills and practice, most of which was indoors.

"For the most part, we've mastered as much as we can without having a game in there," she said. "The girls now are getting psyched up for the games, which is good. For a while there, we were all worried because most of the other girls have been playing longer and lots of these girls are first-year players. But we've improved so much.

"We are so tired of the drills, but they do help and our coaches are really supportive of all of us. We get a lot of feedback and input, but we are definitely ready for the games."

A full schedule of this weekend's game is listed in the "Around Town" box on B2.

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