COLUMBIA — Never standing more than a few feet from the first base, Joe Henderson leans in close to his players to speak words of encouragement.
"The biggest thing for me is trying to be a motivator," Henderson said of his coaching style. "I help them get to the next base."
Henderson is currently in his second season as assistant coach for the Columbia College softball team. He is not new to Columbia as the former head coach of the Rock Bridge High School softball team. During his time with the Bruins he accumulated a 64-40 record, making him the winningest softball coach at the school.
According to Henderson, his experience has taught him that building confidence is vital to the success of a team.
Something has been working right recently.
Columbia College has won nine of its past 10 games after sweeping a doubleheader against visiting Benedictine-Springfield on Tuesday to end the regular season. The Cougars won the first game 13-5 in five innings then won the second game 5-3 to improve to 11-5 in American Midwest Conference play and 24-16 overall.
Meagan Thurman, Marli Hayes, Morgan Bounds and Whitni Howell had two hits apiece in the first game. Thurman led the Cougars in the second game with three hits, two runs, two RBIs and a stolen base.
Henderson said he was pleased with his players' success.
"They're really hard workers. That's why their averages are so high," Henderson said. "It's a direct correlation to their work ethic."
The Cougars begin postseason play April 27 in the quarterfinals of the AMC tournament against an opponent announced when the final regular season standings are determined.