Young Lady Panthers Learning a New Varsity Sport
By Daniel Dullum
Esther Robinson is one of five eighth graders on the inaugural Imagine Prep-Superstition softball roster. Being out there with the big girls doesn’t faze her a bit.
“Sometimes it’s kind of scary, but I think it’s awesome that an eighth-grader can get out here and play,” Robinson said.
To say the Lady Panthers have a young roster is an understatement. IPS has one sophomore (Bella Ortiz), one freshman (Annalise Chiera), eighth-graders Robinson, Abigail Otteman, Ariana Otteman, Jorian Foley and Gracielle Lansing, and seventh-grader Camryn McFadden.
From this group, Robinson, Abigail and Ariana Otteman, Lansing, McFadden, and junior Litzy Vega never played softball in their lives until they showed up for the first practice.
Describing the feeling of getting on the field at Prospector Park for the first time, Robinson, an outfielder, said, “It was awesome,” adding, “I always like to watch softball on TV, so when I heard they were having a softball team at this school, I knew I wanted to do it so bad! It’s so much fun, it really is!”
Abigail Otteman, a second baseman, said, “I was kind of feeling like I needed to get out and do something. When I got out here and I got to the first practice, and got that ball in my glove, I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
On the challenge of learning a new sport on the fly as varsity players, Coach Joe Bachmann said he breaks it into three parts – “the physical part, the rules, and pressing on practice.”
“They’re learning how to do something they haven’t done before,” Baumann said. “The rules are very intricate, and if you’ve never played before, they don’t make sense.
“They’re also learning that you play the way you practice, and you can never, ever give up,” he continued. “It’s not that they give up – it’s a long haul for them. The other thing is getting so excited and then start throwing the ball. There’s a place to throw it, and they have to learn that.”
Abigail and Esther agreed about the challenge of learning the rules, and both feel they’re steadily improving and picking up the sport’ nuances.
Abigail said, “I think it’s going pretty well. I think we played really good today and really pushed them.”
“You get the rules into your head, and have to get the other stuff out,” Robinson said. “I was out for a little while when I was hurt, so picking it back up after two weeks; that was kind of challenging.”
Abigail Otteman agreed with Robinson about the rules, saying, “It’s complicated sometimes, but I’ll get the hang of it.”
Photo above: Six of the 14 Imagine Prep-Superstition softball players never played the sport prior to joining for the Lady Panthers’ first-ever season. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)