ST. CLAIR TWP. — Wayne Henson was hired just in time to prepare the Edgewood High School softball team for an unpredictable season.
He went to the drawing board right away, and the first-year coach is excited to see some of the benefits coming around as tournament time approaches for his Cougars.
“The goal was to get a good foundation laid. I had to pull out the Whiteboard to get things started,” Henson said. “I feel good at this point that we’re close to getting there.”
The road hasn’t been the smoothest for Edgewood, which won its first two games before suffering a nine-game losing skid.
A couple of blowout victories over Northwest last week and 18-0 wins over Mount Healthy and Valley View a week prior have the 6-14 Cougars reeling confidently.
“Our scores may not look like it, but I feel like we can play with most teams,” Henson said. “We just haven’t been able to play a full game against most teams — if that makes sense.
“We either hit and not play good defense, or we play good defense and not hit. We just haven’t been able to put a full game together sometimes.”
With the acceptance of a new coach, the Cougars have turned the corner regarding morale in the dugout. Henson recently pointed to Edgewood’s competitive losses to Talawanda, Harrison and Franklin as key examples.
“I’ve been telling them the season is what it is right now. We’re starting to build on all of it — even the games we don’t win,” Henson said. “Once the regular season ends, a new season comes with the tournament. We will probably play a good team right off the bat, but if we can keep building off what we’re doing, we will give somebody a game.
“I’ve talked to them about trusting the process. We knew when I was taking over that we had five freshmen, one sophomore and one senior. Getting them to buy into the process, they’re eventually going to see the positives.”
One of those freshmen — Leigha Combs — has recorded all six of Edgewood’s triumphs in the pitcher’s circle. She’s logged 61 strikeouts.
“We have talented girls, but we also knew we would take some lumps,” Henson said. “There’s an upside tick this. There’s always a chance each game, and all we want to do is continue to get better.”
Sophomore Evelyn Henson leads the team in batting average (.446), hits (25), RBIs (20), runs scored (24) and stolen bases (22). Maddie Webb — the lone senior — has 16 hits and 15 RBIS, while junior Kaylynn Spencer is hitting .412 with 21 hits, 14 RBIs and 12 runs.
Henson said getting every player on the roster some action during the two Northwest wins at home on Tuesday was a positive.
“We had a rough start at the beginning of the season — with the changing of the helm and getting the girls to buy in. It’s taken a little while to get it going,” Henson said.
“On any given day, we’re a different team if we do what we’re supposed to do. These girls want to be coached.”
Henson said the Cougars are invested in this year’s motto, which was taken from the wise words of Benjamin Franklin.
“Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn,” the coach said. “It seems to be the message we’ve been living by all season. That’s how I feel about them. I’m hands-on with them — in the dirt. I want them to get involved if they see me involved.
“When they take in what they’ve learned this season, I’m hoping it will all be stuck in their heads for them to get rolling again for next season.”