Only two eighth-graders – the same number as last season – are in the lineup. Sixth- and seventh-graders occupy the rest of the roster. The small contingent of eighth-graders is comprised of pitcher Aleina Micco and third baseman Krysta Burton, both key contributors for second-year coach Nancy Jimmie’s squad, which split its first two games.
After a 5-3 record last year, PECS started this season with a 10-9 victory at home against Glades Day School’s junior varsity Feb. 11. The Seminoles suffered their first loss Feb. 19 with a 7-0 setback against Okeechobee High’s junior varsity.
“We have the potential to go far and win every game; it’s just getting the girls motivated,” Jimmie said. “I’m confident in my older girls who want to be out here and play; I have about five or six that really want to play.”
Offensive power against Glades Day came from leadoff batter Janessa Nunez and cleanup batter Alaina Sweat. Both players tripled as PECS eked out a victory.
“We had first-game jitters,” Jimmie said.
With Alaina behind the plate, Aleina produced a sharp outing in the circle against Okeechobee, but PECS’ bats were quiet. After Okeechobee built a 2-0 first-inning lead, Aleina responded with four straight scoreless innings. When Okeechobee threatened in the second inning, Aleina promptly snagged a line drive and threw to first baseman Jacee Jumper for a double play. Aleina fanned the next batter to end the inning. Later, she recorded another strikeout with an enticing change-up.
“She’s got a big arm. She’s a great pitcher,” Jimmie said.
In addition to Aleina’s strong pitching, PECS’ defense helped keep the score close through six innings. Krysta, Jacee, second baseman Janessa and shortstop Julia Smith all made tough plays for outs.
Alyssa Gonzalez, Jenna Brown, Laila Bennett and Aleah Turtle handled outfield duties. Haylie Huff was injured and did not play.
In the fifth, Jenna earned a walk as she battled back after being down in the count. The inning didn’t materialize into runs, but Jenna’s hard-earned walk was a small example of the type of determination that Jimmie is looking for from her team this season.