'We're a completely different team': Despite tough season, Bucs continue to grow under Deweese
Look at the scoreboard at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex and one would think that being a part of Mainland's softball team would not exactly be a worthwhile experience. By the third inning in the Buccaneers’ crosstown matchup against Seabreeze on Tuesday, March 27, the Buccaneers were already down 15-0.
They had, like most games this season, no shot at winning.
For example: In the top of third inning facing a 3-2 count, Buccaneers center fielder Jakeria Simmons drilled a ground ball that slid past the outstretched glove of Seabreeze’s first baseman. When Simmons rounded first, the coaches and the rest of the team thought she had a great shot at making it to second.
“She’s really fast,” Mainland coach Alec Deweese said. “We really thought she was going to make it.”
Simmons fell just short. She was tagged a split second before her foot hit the bag.
But that didn’t matter.
Her teammates, already battered by the six shutouts they’ve endured this season, cheered anyway.
Mainland never recorded a hit and never recorded a run in its run-rule loss to the Sandcrabs, who beat the Buccaneers 18-0 in their first meeting on Feb. 22. The Buccaneers only got on base once, when outfielder Alyssa Miller was hit by a wayward pitch.
The one thing this Buccaneers team did show? They were improving — slowly, but surely.
“From the beginning of the year until now, this is a completely different team,” Deweese said. “The score isn’t really showing it right now, but they are getting a lot better.”
In addition to Simmons’ near-highlight play, Mainland showed an inkling of promise at the pitching position. Sophomore Haleigh Gilloz, who previously rotated between second base and shortstop, got her first start in the circle this season. Despite her struggles to consistently locate the ball, she managed to string together a few strikes. It was her first game pitching since Little League.
Tuesday’s performance was enough to impress rival coach, Seabreeze’s Meghan Bainbridge.
“Mainland has improved since the last time we saw them,” she said. “They’re making plays, throwing strikes and swinging the bat.”
She added: “They’re out there trying, having fun and putting in the work. I respect that a lot.”