Prep softball | Senior-dominated infield has Lakewood Ranch back in state tournament

Senior-dominated group has Mustangs back in state tournament

adell@bradenton.comMay 9, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A scouting report on Jenn Trotter would likely say she does things the wrong way, but gets the right results.

Lakewood Ranch head softball coach Tony Cummins would alter that a little. He would say she is unconventional and allow the results to speak for themselves.

In Trotter's four years as the Mustangs' starting second baseman, the program has won four district titles and will make its second straight state final four appearance Friday.

"I do things way different than anyone," Trotter said. "I throw sidearm. I swing differently. I get hit by a ton of pitches. Coaches tried to change my swing when I was a sophomore and it didn't work, so they let me go my own way."

It's a good thing they left Trotter alone. Despite missing more than half the season with torn ligaments in her ankle, she leads the Mustangs with a .405 batting average.

"She is the kid I call clutch," Cummins said. "She is unconventional but makes things happen. Her mechanics are strictly hers. She has an incredible knowledge of the game, and I don't know anyone who sees pitches better."

Mustangs first baseman Katie Hopkins gets a close-up view of Trotter's talents and never ceases to be amazed.

"She has a sidearm throw so sometimes it can get a little crazy," Hopkins said. "She doesn't throw over

the top. She comes around the side and it's different than the other infielders. She puts a little spin on it sometimes."

Trotter is the leader of a veteran infield that includes three full-time starters from last year and Hopkins, who started about half the games.

Trotter and shortstop McKaleigh Goodale form a formidable tandem that has played together for three and a half years in high school.

Goodale is third on the team with a .378 batting average, second with three homers and 23 runs scored and third with 25 RBIs. The Wagner University signee is the field generator on defense and, according to Cummins, has the uncanny ability to make the exceptional play.

"Jenn and I have played together since we were 9 and are really in synch with what we have to do and how we throw," Goodale said.

Cummins says playing third base in softball takes courage, which is why he put Amber Wimmer there. She often is only 45 feet from home plate and often crawls up the line to handle a bunt.

"You have to be fearless to play third. You need good reactions and nerves of steel. It's impossible to bunt on Amber because she is so fast and has such a strong arm," Cummins said.

Wimmer played third most of her life, but manned first for much of last season. She has played every position for the Mustangs but was glad to return to being a full-time third baseman this season.

"I love playing there. You need quick reactions," Wimmer said. "I've been hit a few times (with line drives), but you've got to be tough and get back out there. It can be scary when you have one of those big girls up there. Mentally, you just have to prepare yourself."

Wimmer also been productive with her bat. She is hitting .354, is second on the team with 34 hits and has a .905 fielding percentage.

"She throws the ball harder than anyone on the team and rarely makes a bad throw. It's scary on the bunts, but I always trust her to make a good throw," Hopkins said.

At 5-foot-9, Hopkins presents a tall target at first base and has proven to be adept at scooping balls thrown in the dirt.

Cummins said it's a big advantage to have a veteran infield like the one that will put on the field in the Mustangs' Class 6A state tournament semifinal Friday against Lake City Columbia in Vero Beach.

"They are more mature and have battled through tough situations. When they make a mistake they don't dwell on it and move on," Cummins said. "This infield is very good at anticipating where the ball is going and what to do in certain situations."

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