Youth movement in full swing at St. Aloysius|[2/18/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 18, 2005

On paper, this looks to be a rebuilding year for St. Aloysius.

The Lady Flashes have no seniors, only three juniors, lost their best pitcher from last season and seem more suited to a run in the Class 1A playoffs in 2006 than in the Class 1A-2A playoffs this season.

St. Al coach Gene Rogillio acknowledges the youth of his team, but isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.

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“Winners find a way to win, and you have to get into the mindset of being a winner,” said Rogillio, who has led the Flashes to winning seasons in five of the six years the fast-pitch program has been in existence. “That’s what we’ve done a lot in the past, and that’s what we have to do this year. We have to be winners.”

Despite the small number of upper classmen, the Lady Flashes’ cupboard isn’t bare.

Sophomore Sarah Kerut, who struck out 28 batters in 14 2/3 innings last season, returns and will team with seventh-grader Sarah Franco to form a solid pitching tandem. Kerut also hit .554 in 2004.

They’ll try to replace standout pitcher Laura Beth Lyons, who excelled in the circle for the last three seasons.

“When you get rid of a senior pitcher like (Lyons) was, you have to replace her with someone who is as strong as she was in the 10th grade. That’s going to take more defensive work than we’ve done in the past and more hitting,” Rogillio said, adding that the styles of Kerut and Franco play off each other nicely. “One has a little more power, the other has a little more finesse. They’re both going to pitch their share of games.”

While Kerut will fill the pitching void left by Lyons, catcher Mary Myers Franco and fellow juniors Ashley Magee and Lauren Lanier will be called on to fill the leadership role.

With no seniors on the team, they are the only three players on the 21-person roster above the 10th grade.

“It’s kind of weird to be leaders,” Mary Myers Franco said. “We still have pretty much the same team. We only lost two people, so I think we’ll be OK.”

Offensively, Rogillio is hoping to reap the benefits of this winter’s rainy weather. While it has kept the Lady Flashes from practicing defensive situations on the field, it has forced them into the batting cage and improved their swings.

“I’m hoping we’re going to come along. We spent a lot of our January practices hitting in the cage,” Rogillio said. “We hope it’s going to pay off.”