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DECATUR – Looking back at the Decatur summer league, Vandalia High School softball coach Brian Buscher realized something after his short-handed team won the championship game on Saturday night.
The long drives to Decatur every week paid off, as every player gained something from the 19 games the Lady Vandals played.
“Everybody,” Buscher said. “Getting those at-bats, and any time you can have live situations, kids can learn on the field. That’s why we come up here.”
Many of the players who saw regular playing time during league games have not had extensive experience on Vandalia’s high school varsity squad.
Emilie Britt, who was the only player to play all 19 games, played all but two games for the varsity team in this past spring, but she only had a handful of at-bats as the team’s defensive flex player.
The slap-hitting junior had a respectable finish at Decatur, hitting .327 in 52 at-bats, and scoring 18 times.
Another standout was Kylie Sellers, who hit .390 in 13 games and scored 19 runs. In the spring, as a freshman, Sellers played in 19 games, primarily as a pinch-runner, and gained just two at-bats.
Next spring’s starting lineup is far from finalized, but Buscher said that those who don’t start on the varsity team next season still bettered themselves, which can create competition for playing time later on.
“Not every girl here is going to start next year,” Buscher said. “There may be a girl or two who doesn’t see the varsity field next year, but they might the year after.
“The extra games keep them learning.”
Shelby Foster, Paige Ehrat, Abby Dugan, Caitlin Alverson and Matti Tedrick had little, or no, varsity experience last season, but each had more than 30 at-bats in Decatur and played valuable innings in the field.
Four Lady Vandals hit better than .475 during league games, with Megan Godoyo (.641 in 14 games) leading the way.
Amber Bruno (.569 in 17 games), Alex Henna (.538 in 16 games plus a team-best five homers) and Foster (.483 in 13 games) joined her.
Taylor Well (.413 in 17 games) was also a consistent hitter for Vandalia
Henna, who will be a senior leader next spring, was especially a bright spot, as she has struggled at the plate during the past two high school seasons, hitting just .175 as a junior and .211 as a sophomore.
Last summer, she hit .283.
The summer season ended for Vandalia on Tuesday, with a rainout of a scheduled game against Greenville.
Vandalia was 16-13 overall.
Team leaders from Decatur league games:
•Home runs – Henna, 5
•RBI – Godoyo and Henna, 28
•Runs – Bruno, 31
•Hits – Bruno, 29
•Average – Godoyo, .641
•Stolen bases – Bruno, 23