ST. PETERSBURG — Once Jeff Krone took over the Academy of the Holy Names softball program, he started to make wholesale changes. No positions were guaranteed. Captains were not automatically anointed.
Everything had to be earned.
“We just created a different culture,” Krone said.
By starting over in every way, the Jaguars were able to put aside last season’s disappointing performance.
Now, Academy of the Holy Names is back in state title contention, at least judging from early results. The Jaguars had won five of the first six games entering Wednesday’s contest against Canterbury.
Even after a week off to allow students to go on yearly mission trips, Holy Names showed no rust. The offense stayed consistent with 11 hits. And the runs came in bunches.
The result: a 15-4 victory.
“We kept making contact and capitalized on everything we could get,” Krone said.
Inning by inning, the Jaguars were patient and productive. Rachael Petrarca provided the pop in the lineup with a pair of doubles and a homer.
“It’s hard being at the top of the lineup because I’m usually in the middle in travel ball,” Petrarca said. “You just have to get in the right mind-set.”
By putting the ball in play, Academy of the Holy Names put pressure on the Crusaders.
There was some miscommunication among Canterbury fielders. As a result, softballs dropped in for easy hits. Soon after, heads drooped.
“This was not the best day for the Crusaders,” Canterbury coach Jody Moore said. “There were some mental, physical and emotional errors.”
The Crusaders (9-4) have a seventh-grader, three eighth-graders and six freshmen on the roster. Despite having so many youngsters, Canterbury has fared well playing a difficult schedule. And it only gets harder. Next week, the Crusaders travel to Miami for the Orange Bowl Florida Fast-Pitch Invitational.
“This team doesn’t know how good they really are just yet,” Moore said. “Age is not an excuse. This was an opportunity to learn. I know these girls will dedicate themselves to fixing things.”