Move to White has Farmington coach aiming for better spring

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published April 16, 2014

 Farmington senior Trycia Piontek hauls in a fly ball last week at practice. The Falcons moved to the OAA White this spring.

Farmington senior Trycia Piontek hauls in a fly ball last week at practice. The Falcons moved to the OAA White this spring.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

FARMINGTON — Like any other year, roster turnover is one of the first challenges Stephanie Volpe has to work through.

As the Farmington High softball coach finally eyes game play, set to start April 16 in a doubleheader with Beverly Hills Groves, she’s a little anxious to learn just what her Falcons squad is — and what her girls could be.

“It’s still too early to know exactly what we are or what we have,” Volpe said last week of her team, which had not played a game yet. “The weather has been a real challenge, obviously. We’ve spent all but two or three days inside. … So we’re still learning.”

Volpe and the Falcons are coming off a 13-24 spring in 2013, which included a 1-9 record and last-place finish in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Overmatched in many league games a year ago, the main problem for Farmington was consistency.

“We’d play a good three or four innings,” Volpe said. “But after that, things would kind of get away from us. That’s one of our biggest goals this year. We want to play more consistent. We want to put together a full seven innings.”

The Falcons moved to the OAA White this spring, and Volpe hopes that puts her team on a more level playing field.

“I feel like we’ll be on a more competitive level this time,” she said. “Whether we come out on top or not will change from one game to the next, but we’ll be able to compete with the teams on the schedule this season.”

The aforementioned change in the roster has been a work in progress, according to Volpe.

While the team did bring back a good host of varsity veterans, starting pitcher and the team’s top hitter Sarah Gutknecht graduated.

“She was roughly 90 percent of our offense,” Volpe said with a laugh.

Sarah Gallagher, the starting catcher from a year ago, takes over the No. 1 pitching spot after seeing limited action in the circle as a junior.

“She’s also one of our top hitters,” Volpe said of Gallagher. “She was at the top of the lineup last year, so we’ll probably move her down a little bit this year.”

As for her pitching?

“She’s not going to overpower anyone, and we all know that,” Volpe said. “She isn’t going to strike a ton of people out. So we have to be able to play defense behind her.”

Volpe said reaching too many conclusions right off the bat about her team wouldn’t do anyone any good.

Now that her girls are outside, for the most part, and playing games, she said they’ll need a couple weeks, or about eight games, to really figure out what they are capable of doing.

“I think by May, we’ll have an idea,” she said. “Then we’ll have a better grasp on who goes where and what we have. Our work now is geared on getting to that point.”