VERNON, Fla. (WMBB) – The Vernon softball team has struggled the last four seasons, only winning two games in the span of that time and losing 55 matches.
However, the tides have changed for the Yellowjackets as this year they have done six times better than that and have a 12-9 record so far.
“We had nothing to lose coming into this year, we’ve lost years in the past so it’s like we have nothing to lose all we can do is prove them different,” Vernon softball player Zarah Dernbach said.
First-year head coach Crystal Fitzgerald took over the Vernon program this season knowing the team’s history.
However, she didn’t think it would turn around this much in the first year.
“Year one we had goals sure, did I think we would meet them? I wasn’t sure, especially coming from where we were. I was having trouble getting kids to even come out and play,” Fitzgerald said.
Slowly but surely, she got enough players to join the team, 12 of them total.
“I started the year and I didn’t want to play again. They called me out here cause I just wasn’t in love with the game. I came back out here and I fell right back in love with it, they just showed me something totally different,” Dernbach said.
The players credit a lot of the success to their new coaching staff, which not only features Coach Fitzgerald, but her dad as well.
He coached her when she was playing at Holmes County High School, so Coach Fitzgerald thought they would make a good team.
“He’ll make changes that I’m not as brave to make, I work more with the pitching side and he works more with the fielding and hitting. Together we make decisions on whose gonna be where and whose gonna be where in the lineup and the field, we work together really well, but it’s taken some adjusting for sure,” Fitzgerald said.
It’s not over for the team yet as they have the district tournament starting on Wednesday. Coach Fitzgerald said heading into it, she just wants the players to remember what she told them at the beginning of the season.
“We asked them from the start guys please do not give up on us and we won’t give up on you, if you give us 110 from start to finish, you won’t hear a word from us and that’s really what they have done,” Fitzgerald said.
The Yellowjackets take on Freeport in the district semifinals on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.