Sophomores are supposed to learn from seniors and then as a junior take on more of a leadership role before maturing as a senior. But there hasn’t been time for that at Apex Friendship for pitcher Karen Dusterberg, who is now a junior.
“She’s been our catalyst,” Hopkins said. “She works hard and is our team leader for two years.”
Dusterberg has embraced the role despite the hard knocks the team endured from a 5-11 record last year that was both the Patriots’ overall record and Southwest Wake Athletic Conference mark since they didn’t play nonconference contests.
“I’ve worked hard on being a leader,” she said. “I know it’s important to be a good leader if I’m going to have an impact on this team improving.”
She added she and her teammates aren’t frustrated by last year’s losing or discouraged by this spring. The Patriots are 4-14 (3-10).
“I still think our team has so much potential,” Dusterberg said after a March 20 win at Cary. “Everyone is working hard and we’re showing determination. Before we came over here today we talked about being determined to show we can win from here on. This is an important win for us.”
Cary led 6-4 after five innings before Apex Friendship rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth. Sophomore catcher Amanda Malinsky tripled to score junior Aubrie Holcomb with the go-ahead run and then she came home for an insurance run on a single by junior Megan Plowman.
Dusterberg said the comeback win was especially encouraging after an unexpected slow start to the season. In addition to sweeping Cary last year, the Patriots swept Athens Drive and managed an upset of Panther Creek.
Friendship has swept Cary again this year and has a chance to do the same to Athens Drive. Its nonconference win was a 20-9 rout of Western Harnett.
“We thought we’d be more successful than we’ve been so far based on last year,” Dusterberg said. “We haven’t showed our potential yet.”
Dusterberg gained experience last year, but she knew that wasn’t enough to prepare for her junior season.
“I worked a lot on having more pitches,” Dusterberg said. “I knew I had to work on having more movement on my pitches.”