Spartans Softball: A Diehard Team, A Legendary Coach
By Sarah Almond | Sarah@mycityjournals.com
Murray - A highly successful 20-9 season in 2015 set the tone for this year’s Murray High School softball team. With tryouts beginning Feb. 29, the group is gearing up to launch their two-and-a-half-month, 22-game season.
Parker and her staff typically try to complete the tryout process within two to three days. With a scheduled tournament in St. George on Mar. 5, the team has just one week to practice before putting their skills to the test. Thankfully, almost all of the players have been attending option open-gym practices on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“We usually end up having between 18 and 22 girls each year, but we don’t have a set number,” Parker said. “It all depends on who we feel can help us, and who we feel can really develop into something.”
Unfortunately, the Spartans have already faced setbacks in the form of injuries. Returning junior Lexie Sprague, who was in contention for being one of the top home-run hitters in the state, suffered a labrum tear and isn’t expected to return until at least mid-March.
“We’re down a few players already, but I’m still optimistic,” Parker said. “We’ve got some good kids that will step in. At this point we have four returning seniors.”
One such returner is third baseman Emma Noble. A top player and leader on the team, Noble recently signed on with SLCC to join their softball team in their 2016-2017 season. Erin Hohnholt, another returning senior, is a pitcher for the Spartans as well as one of the team’s top hitters.
Though injures may leave a temporary void in the starting lineup, Parker is confident in her team’s ability to step up to the plate.
“We have some returning starters and some kids coming up from the JV team that will be first-time varsity kids, but I think they’ll be able to come in and do just fine,” Parker said. “ We’ll see – it might turn out to be an interesting year.”
With 25 years of coaching experience under her belt, Parker is no stranger to the ebbs and flows that accompany high school sports. Though she first started coaching at Cyprus High School in 1991, she’s been at Murray ever since 1993. Ask anyone whose played under Parker and they’ll testify to her legendary, unparalleled coaching method.
“Emma and I have both played for Parker since age 10,” Hohnholt said. “Growing up under her leadership, I have learned so much about myself. I’ve gained so much confidence not just on the field, but also off the field. I have become such a hard worker; my work ethic in the work place and how I handle confrontation with coworkers, it’s all because of her.”
Parker deeply values the importance of maintaining passion for the sport and consistently encourages players to improve not for themselves, but for the betterment of the team. Like many players on the Murray team, Noble bought into Parkers’ idea and hasn’t looked back since.
“This season I’m most excited to play softball, because I just love softball,” Noble said. “And I think this year we have really good cohesion. We all get along really well and we’re more willing to help people succeed for the team rather than personal success.”
Not only does she agree with Noble, but Hohnolt also think it is this combo – passion for the sport and dedication to the betterment of the entire team – that is their ticket to yet another successful season.
“Our goal is to maintain work ethic and keep the chemistry,” Hohnholt said. “We’re already working hard and I’ve noticed in the past two practices that as we get to know each other more, it’s easier to cheer each other on and everyone is really supportive. I think we’ve got our hearts in the right place, and that’s a good place to start.”
The Spartans play their first game at Brighton High School on Mar. 15 at