Lineup balance has Mead softball off to a monumental start to the season

Mead Elizabeth softball

(Lisa Hayes/StillOfTheMomentPhotography.com)

One look through the Mead batting order and it's tough to figure out who's the best hitter to have up in a clutch situation.

In reality, it could be anyone from the leadoff spot to the nine-hole. The Mavericks are as consistent as can be from top to bottom and that's a big reason that they're currently ranked No. 1 in the Class 4A softball rankings and also a perceived favorite to make a run at a state championship.

The season opened with wins over Elizabeth and Windsor, but it wasn't until a 12-4 win over defending champion Erie that the Mavericks truly felt like they had something special coming together this season.

"It's all about a team-first attitude," coach Amanda Macaluso said. "Our chemistry is amazing this year. I think part of has to do with COVID and the fact that we're just so grateful to be playing in any way shape or form. They're all about whatever the team needs."

She's not lying. Although the Mavericks lineup varies in terms of batting order, every other key stat is consistent no matter who is at the plate. No one has more than nine RBIs and six players have at least five. The team has hit eight home runs with three players responsible for two bombs a piece while two others have one to their names.

"We just have a really strong one through nine," junior Emily Sauvageau said. "We don't have any easy outs in our lineup. You go through the whole thing and it's really difficult to get anyone out."

Erie Mead softball

(Steve Oathout)

That especially helps when on the defensive side when the pitching staff is led by a sophomore. Josslynn Veltien has been everything Mead needs her to be to balance out a well-producing lineup. In 46 innings she's given up just 18 earned runs while striking out 52 hitters.

Perhaps her biggest test came just last week when the Mavericks needed 11 innings to get a hard-fought win over Silver Creek. Getting through that one and keeping their record unblemished gave the Mavericks that little extra bit of confidence that this could be their year.

"In that game we didn't give up," Veltien said. "We kept pushing. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. In the future we know that if we get into tight games like that, we won't just freak out and give it up."

Add mental toughness to the list of reasons Mead is firing on all cylinders this year. Veronica Elsis' nine RBIs help. She shares the team lead in hits at 11 with Delaney Wilson and Savanna Griebling. Sauvageau is batting .500 and "seeing watermelons at the plate right now" according to Macaluso.

Adding in mental toughness can make a team playing so well even more unstoppable.

"In years past, our biggest struggle is that we couldn't win those close games," Macaluso said. "We didn't have the confidence that if they were wearing an Erie Tigers jersey, we were already defeated. We completely overcome that panic, if you will, and we are really just confident in each and every kid and every at-bat. They trust each other."

The Mavericks still have games remaining against Erie and Holy Family, the last two 4A state champions. But with wins against both team already, they're hoping they can continue to show that anyone looking to claim a state title has to go through them first.

Rocky Mountain Mead softball

(David Johnson/davidjohnsonphotography.org)