Central softball rallies around new coach

“I jumped in with both feet,” he said.

The 49-year-old Guetierez had been a grade school and junior high softball coach in the Catholic Central system for the last six years and has coached youth sports in Springfield since 1989.

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He takes over for Doug Skinner, who retired after 30 years with a 328-477 career record. He led the Irish to the Division IV regional finals in 2002 and ’03, but the program has been plagued by a numbers shortage since, which explains why they went 0-23 and 2-24 the last two years.

Guetierez, though, has had an impact on that. The Irish have 17 players, up from 11 last season, and will be scheduling JV games for the first time in years.

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“With this opportunity coming open for me, they wanted to play this year,” he said. “It helped that I’ve coached a lot of them for a good while.”

But Guetierez, who works has a design engineer for Jefferson Industries Corp. in West Jefferson, knows there’s plenty of work to do before the Irish can be competitive. His main focus is to build morale.

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“I’m pushing that as hard as I can. I tell them, ‘You can do better.’ I’ve seen all these girls for years and I’ve seen a lot of greatness in them,” he said.

“I leaned on them when they were younger and they pulled out games. One year with junior high, we played a lot of GWOC teams and actually beat Centerville.”

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He’s set modest goals for the Irish this season. He just wants them to stretch games to a full seven innings.

They were run-ruled frequently the last two years. Games are called after four innings with a 15-run deficit and after five with a 10-run margin.

“I asked the girls that have been playing in high school about that, and they only could count about five seven-inning games,” he said. “That’s my only goal. Let’s play seven. It’s all about getting outs. Let’s start there. The wins will come as long as we can get to seven innings.”

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The Irish at least have plenty of experience. Senior Bri Ewing hit .290 last season and will play center field.

“I had her from 10-and-under (softball) up to junior high,” Guetierez said. “She started at third base and then we stuck her out in center, and, boy, is she good out there.”

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Senior first baseman Erika Ray, who transferred from Kenton Ridge, is another strong hitter and will bat fourth.

Sophomore short stop Karina Escemillia has impressed the coach with her athleticism. Sophomore catcher Evelyn Dunn has, too.

Becca Samosky is one of three freshmen on the team and will start at third.

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Junior Adelaide Taylor has been the primary pitcher the last two years. She’s battling junior Laura Williams for the job this season.

“Both are coming along but have some work to do,” the coach said, adding that the Irish have a bright future because of some promising pitchers in the junior-high ranks.

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Guetierez admitted to being nervous in coaching the varsity after three decades in youth sports, but he doesn’t think the athletes are much different. They’re all in need of encouragement.

“I like seeing kids develop into something they didn’t think they could be — just make them believe and inspire them,” he said. “I tell them, ‘You will get better.’ That’s always been my motto.”

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