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Lafayette Jeff softball team is winning together
April 24, 2012Lafayette Jefferson High School
Lafayette Jeff senior Jenni Graham has seen how friction among teammates can ruin a season.
There's been none of that in the first half of the Broncho softball season, and Jeff is off to a confident 8-6 start.
"In the past years in the softball program, there was definitely not great team bonding and, as you can tell, that didn't give us a whole lot of wins," Graham said.
The Bronchos were dominant in a 7-0 victory against West Lafayette on Monday, their fifth win in seven games. Jeff's only two losses during that stretch came to Class 4A No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern and No. 5 Lake Central.
Lafayette Jeff's other losses came to McCutcheon, Penn, Logansport and Noblesville during a 3-4 start. Last season, the Bronchos finished 11-16.
"This is the most fun (season) because we are more of a team this year than we have been in the past," senior Cassie Jenkins said. "We're a lot closer and the whole team is more of the concept than the 'I.' "
After a 12-5 loss to McCutcheon on April 3, the Bronchos bounced back with a 9-5 win at Harrison. Graham went 3-for-4 that game and is batting a team-high .378.
"Harrison was a huge confidence boost for us," said junior Connor Garrity, who had a two-run double against West Lafayette. "That was a game we were looking forward to the whole way."
Five starters are batting at least .325, including Garrity and Graham. Garrity was second on the team in batting average as a sophomore to Kaitlyn Perez, who is one of eight seniors on this year's team.
In addition to Graham and Garrity, also batting at least .325 are three members of a heralded Jeff freshman group -- Zoee Anderson (.325), Kaitlynn Moody (.368) and Maegan Rusk (.333).
"I didn't know right until the start of the season that they were coming up (to varsity)," Jenkins said. "I knew right away that they were very talented and they were going to help us a lot."
Moody also has been strong in the circle, striking out 13 Red Devils to improve to 5-3 this year. Last week she hit Jeff's only two home runs this season. Anderson hit her third triple of the season Monday night.
While the offense has been an improvement, the Bronchos have also excelled defensively. All but two players have a fielding percentage better than 93 percent.
"Our defense has gotten a lot better," said Jenkins, Jeff's shortstop. "I think that's because we realize if we play well, we can win. We've gotten a lot better this year so hard work does pay off.
"I knew that if we didn't do everything fundamentally right, then we wouldn't beat those teams."