Danville softball readies for first season under new coach

Published 5:10 pm Monday, March 26, 2018

Danville’s softball team is eager for the season to get started.

It’s the first year under head coach Jason Spencer, who said his group of six seniors have already started to lead the way this year.

“Our senior group is gonna lead us,” Spencer said. “They’re talented. We’ve moved some people around, did some different things and they’ve worked real hard. Really since we started doing open gym type stuff in the offseason. They’ve been working really, really hard. They continue to go at it every day with a good attitude and work really hard.”

Email newsletter signup

Those seniors — Gabriella Campos, Hannah Felty, Nakyia Frye, Hailey Guest, Shivani Patel and Morgan Ryan — have accepted a new coach this year and a different coaching method, Spencer said.

“They just came in and, I have different expectations than other coaches, and they’ve bought in to what we’re trying to teach them,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard. Hannah has worked hard, Morgan, Nakyia, they’ve all worked extremely hard in the offseason to better their game and be better than they’ve ever been before. That’s what we preach: Do you want to be better than you were yesterday? We just take it day by day and try to hone our skills no matter if it’s a senior or a freshman, to allow them to be the very best they can be.”

Spencer got his start coaching 19 years ago at Wayne County, where he graduated high school. Most recently, he’s been an assistant coach with the Danville football team.


Photo submitted/Danville’s newest softball coach, Jason Spencer.


“I’m a first-year coach,” he said. “When you’ve coached as long as I’ve coached, in all athletics, you say ‘I’m going to get out of it, I’m going to be an assistant.’ Then you say, ‘well, I want to still coach.’ There was a need there and I just picked it up and ran with it.”

Danville’s junior class is small but talented: Peyton Young and Rachel Matherly will both start and be heavy contributors this season, Spencer said.

“We have two juniors, that’s all, and I expect big things out of them,” the coach said. “They work hard. I expect Peyton Young to pitch for us, Rachel Matherly to play second base and provide us with a good stick in the lineup.

“Our sophomores, we have some sophomore starters that will be playing a lot: Anaiah Crawford, Abby Thomas. Our freshman class, we’ve got a lot of talented girls in that class. Ella Dampier, she’s going to pitch some for us, Faith Breitenbach is going to play. She’s kind of my “play anywhere” girl, she can play just about anywhere that we put her on the field. Our freshman group is our most talented, but they are young.”

Overall, it’s a young group in terms of varsity experience, and Spencer said getting out on the field and getting varsity exposure will be a huge help.

“Getting them the experience they need, because it’s a whole different world than the middle school world, coming to varsity sports,” Spencer said. “Getting them comfortable in the field, in their positions, at the plate, that’s our focus. Because we’ve made some changes, we’ve moved some people around, trying some different lineups out to give us the best chance to be competitive.”

Danville opens its season today at Campbellsville before hosting Casey County and Boyle County on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

“With us being so young, it’s a learning process,” Spencer said. “We’ve got to take it day by day, game by game and look for the positives to build on. We’re not a super experienced team at the varsity level. The girls that have played have played for a long time but we came in and we kind of looked at each individual player and how they can get better individually, move them around and see what is best for us to be competitive.

“We preach all the time that it’s a process. There’s going to be days where things don’t go your way, you’ll go 0-for. You’ll make an error. It’s play the next play, that’s what we preach. If you make a bad throw, you’ve got to forget about it and move on to the next play. If you get down on yourself, then you’re not going to be beneficial to the team because you’ll just compound that by continually making mistakes.”

Last season, the 12th Region championship sported two 45th District teams — Boyle County and Garrard County. Spencer’s aware that his team faces an uphill climb to compete with those teams, but he said he and his squad are focused on the present.

“Improve day by day, play by play,” he said. “Let’s look at the smaller picture instead of the bigger picture. As long as we take care of us, we’ll be fine. The wins and losses will take care of themselves. We understand where we’re at, what district we play in. We understand it’s a tough district and we respect our opponents. We’re trying to build on us, make us better, build that team chemistry and team-first mentality.”