Wet grass and muddy infield limit Lady Vikes softball practices

The Lady Vikes play soft toss during an indoor practice March 14. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

The Lady Vikes play soft toss during an indoor practice March 14. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

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Jazlyn Romero works on her fielding skills inside the Williams High School gym March 14.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — The winter weather continues to plague the Vikings, with the Lady Vikes only logging one day of practice on their field in Williams so far this season.

Snow and mud have rendered the infield unusable, and the Lady Vikes have spent most of their practices inside the high school gym.

The Lady Vikes are coming back from a winning season, where they went 19-8 overall and 8-0 in the 1A Central region in 2018. This year they have struggled and are 2-9 overall.

“It’s very difficult, (we’ve been) only in the gym,” said new Vikings head coach Raul Hatch.

The team lost Carli Grantham, Erica Rocha, Anna Chaney and Rylie Heap to graduation in 2018. The Vikings welcome back junior Jazlyn Romero, who hit .461 last year, and senior Amaryssa Orozco who hit .457. Romero finished the season with 35 hits, including 5 home runs, and had 47 RBIs. Orozco had 32 hits and 40 RBIs.

Sophomore Aaliyah Alvarado and junior Maegan Ford also return to the lineup. Alvarado hit .354 and led the team with 31 stolen bases, and Ford hit .370 last year

Romero started in six games last year for the Lady Vikes and will lead the pitching crew this year. She will be assisted by Sydney Mortensen, Shiya Romero and Alvarado.

Hatch said he is excited to step into the coaching position this year and anticipates a successful season with the returning and new players for the Lady Vikes. Hatch coached Camp Verde for four years before coming to Williams and has over 28 years as a coach in club ball.

He said it has been difficult to only have practices inside the gym.

“I have a tendency to break them down and get them all on the same page,” Hatch said. “We’re able to do that but we’re not able to go with the fundamentals. I work hard on their mindsets, but it’s hard to go over the fundamentals of why we do what shifts we do when we don’t have a field to play on.”

Hatch is assisted by Taya Mortensen and junior varsity coach Ryan Ward. The coaches have been running drills to simulate field time.

“Hitting is difficult, we’re hitting off tees and we’re hitting off the machine but they aren’t getting visuals of what they are doing,” he said. “I’m trying to work on their mentality on their hitting approaches but it’s really difficult when they can’t see the travel of the ball because in here (the gym) it only travels so far.”

The Lady Vikes have faced some challenging teams early in the season, Hatch said. Their first game of the season was against Camp Verde who is ranked first in the 2A Conference.

“We had one preseason game against Camp Verde,” he said. “We had a scrimmage and the kids did a really good job. Of all things, Camp Verde was our first game of the season after NPA cancelled. We were the first team to score a run against them this year.”

Despite the lack of gym time, Hatch said his pitchers are ready for the season since many of them play club ball in the off-season.

“Our three pitchers have pitched all summer long with club,” he said. “They are coming in hot, they are in really good shape.”

The Lady Vikes played Bagdad March 18 and have their first home game against Joseph City March 26 at 1 p.m.

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