By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Liberty needs to play some softball games.
Mother Nature, are you listening?
“We’ve played just three games. We’ve practiced one time outside,” Raiders coach Mark Workman said. “You can only do so much in the gym.”
Fundamentals are fine in the gym, but game situations? Forget it.
And that’s not good for a team that has lost every key player but one from the 2011 team that finished Class AA runner-up.
“We’re very young, and we got drummed (three games) in the Botetourt Bash in Virginia,” Workman said. “We had a lot of errors.”
Andrea Roles, the sophomore center fielder on the state tournament team, is now a senior and in her second season as the Raiders’ catcher.
Workman expects big things from her, both on and off the field.
“Andrea has got to be a leader,” he said. “She’s started all four years and she’s got a great glove and a strong arm.
“She’s a smart softball player who gives everything she has.”
Roles hit a home run in Virginia.
“She can hit with power or base-hit you to death,” Workman said.
The Raiders’ other standout is sophomore pitcher Sam Pauley, who showed great promise last season.
“Sam was our workhorse last year. She struck out over 100 batters as a freshman,” Workman said. “We’ll lean on her a lot.”
Like most quality pitchers, Pauley worked in the offseason to improve her game.
“She’s gained some speed, and her pitches have got more movement on them,” Workman said. “She’s also a year older, and a year of maturity means a lot to young girls.”
The rest of the starting lineup includes sophomore Stacy Williams at first base, freshman Ashton Mullins at second base, senior transfer Makayla Hosaflook at shortstop, freshman Kaitlyn Hanna at third base and juniors Morgan Drennan, Savanna Caron and Stephanie Griffith at left field, center field and right field, respectively.
Top subs include sophomore catcher-first baseman Breanna Haney, sophomore utility player Makayla Farrell and senior outfielder McKenzie Pettrey.
Hosaflook, who played last year at Central High School near Woodstock, Va., is the backup pitcher. Hanna can also take the mound when needed.
Workman warns people not to try to compare this team to the 2011 squad.
“There’s no comparison Those girls worked their tails off,” he said. “We have to get these girls to buy into that work ethic.
“We’ll struggle, but by tournament time, we’ll be OK.
“If they’re willing to put the work in, they can be as good as they want to be.”
The Raiders are scheduled to play at Woodrow Wilson today, and will travel to Oak Hill Saturday for a 10 a.m. matchup with Oak Hill and a 2 p.m. . game with Point Pleasant.
— E-mail: dstillwell@