With half the Greater Neuse River Confrence schedule complete the Garner softball team holds the early lead, although the schedule will finish tough against West Johnston and Rolesville.
Moe Barbour, who is in his 14th season at the helm after reassuming the reins from his daughter Morgan Jones, said this is one of the better hitting teams he has had, but the pitching is inexperienced.
Freshman Markayla Brumbles and junior Samantha Weidner have split the starting load, while sophomore Kristina Cardenas has been solid in relief.
“When our pitchers settle down and we play good defense, we can be pretty good,” Barbour said. “We know we’ve still got some tough teams to play. We just have to pitch better. But Brumbles is only 14 years old, and I’ve been expecting a lot out of her. And Weidner and Cardenas have done well. ...We’re going to swing the bats, we know that. We’ve just got to pitch and play defense.”
Brumbles is hitting .615 entering the break.
“I’m getting more comfortable pitching because I know my team will help me out on defense,” said Brumbles, a sometimes corner infielder who played for North Garner Middle last year and said she’s been pitching five or six years. “I was really shocked and excited to make the team as a freshman. Sometimes the games are nerve-wracking and exciting.”
Brumbles said she depends a lot on her fastball.
“But my changeup screws them up,” she added. “I like to use it whenever I can.”
Shortstop Kia Jackson has been a stalwart in the leadoff spot, hitting .500 in 10 games. Jackson, who was MVP of the Garner tennis team in the fall despite having played just two seasons, will play softball at George Mason in the fall.
“I just try to give my team a chance every time I come up,” Jackson said. “I always want to move runners. And at shortstop I know I need to make plays and keep everybody involved in the game. My favorite thing about this team is our charisma in the dugout. We’re always making a lot of noise and really excited.”