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Young Braves don’t look their age

On the bus ride to a softball game at Indian Lake on Thursday, Shawnee senior Sydney Tuttle barely heard the questions she was being asked on the phone about this young season. Her young teammates, to no surprise, were as loud as their music.

But Tuttle was patient, asking for the question to be repeated again and again. She admits that being the only senior has been difficult because she misses her old teammates.

“But overall,” she said, “it’s been pretty good because we all work together really well.”

The Braves are playing better than could be reasonably expected for a team that starts three freshmen and four sophomores. They entered Thursday’s game 8-2 and 3-1 in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.

“This is what I was hoping for because I was looking forward to a season of playing with people that are my age but also playing with people that are older than me and more experienced,” said freshman left fielder Karlee Sine. “They brought us in like we were already there before.”

Sine and classmate Lauren Linn, who plays first base, not only lead the Braves in hitting but the CBC as well. Sine is hitting .588 with two home runs and Linn is hitting .607 with a team-high 12 RBIs.

“It’s having to pull your own weight more because you’re the youngest,” Sine said of playing varsity as a freshman. “It’s not proving myself, but proving you deserve to be there.”

Veteran leadership comes from Tuttle, a .417 hitter at shortstop, junior center fielder Morgan Loveless and junior pitcher Emily McKillip, who has been dominant again. She is 7-2 with a 0.79 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 53 innings.

Besides five freshmen, the coach is new. Chris Roberts took over for Larry Spahr after coaching Stebbins the past two years.

“I just thought it was a better program, a better fit for me,” said Roberts, who has coached summer travel ball with Spahr for several years. “For being so young, I’ve been real pleased with how we’ve done defensively and how we’ve played in tight games.”

For Tuttle, the new coach has fit in as well as the freshmen.

“I like our coach a lot,” Tuttle said. “He knows what he’s doing, and he has his eye on the prize. And he can tell us what to do without yelling at us, which is really big deal to us.”

The Braves know they are young and they know Tippecanoe and Kenton Ridge stand in their way of a CBC title. The Braves have two games apiece left with the division leaders.

“I think that’s when we play our best,” Roberts said. “And being able to play good defense and have good pitching you’re always in the game. So you always have a chance, and that’s where we want to be.”

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