Last season it was all so different.
Lindsey Rock, Hickman’s starting shortstop, was a junior on an 8-18 Kewpie softball team that had four seniors that she could go to for advice and support.
Now, as the team’s only returning senior, Rock is the one whom younger players are coming to for advice and support. The lone leader on a team that has gone 2-11. .
“I always looked up to girls older than me, but I never really thought I’d be in that position,” Rock said. “Now I’m starting to notice little things, and realizing that (the younger players) do look up to me. It’s a role change, but I’m getting used to it.”
Hickman coach Courtney Haskell, in her second season, said the way Rock has handled the new role is impressive.
“I think it’s hard for her because the team is going to look to her for answers,” Haskell said. “And I think she’s dealt with that extremely well. You know, when things get tough, it’s nice to know that she’s there.”
She will be there this weekend when Hickman hosts the
16-team Kewpie Classic tournament at the Rainbow Softball Complex.
The Kewpies begin play at 5:30 p.m. today against Pattonville (2-9), and, depending on the game’s outcome, will play either Blue Springs South or Neosho at 8:30 p.m.
Rock’s play should be a big factor in how well the team performs. Going into the tournament, she ranks second on the team in runs scored (six) and is tied for second with a .343 batting average. She is also third in RBIs with four.
Rock has also been forced to deal with the challenges of a new position. Midway through the season, Rock moved from center field, where she played the past two years, to shortstop.
“She made the switch basically after only one practice,” Haskell said. “I’m very proud at the way she’s handled that switch.”
Rock said she is also trying to being more vocal this season. As a co-captain last year, she said, she often let her play do the talking for her, but realizes now that she has an obligation to communicate with younger players.
“In the past, I tried to lead by example,” Rock said. “You know, going out there and just playing hard and giving 100 percent at all times. But this year, I’ve worked on trying to be more verbal.”
Rock, who began playing competitive softball when she was 12, said it has been tough keeping the team motivated during a season marked by tough losses.
After an 0-6 start, Hickman won two games, but is coming off a string of losses. The most recent was an 11-1 defeat against Jefferson City.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going well, we look to blame other people, put other people down to make ourselves feel better,” Haskell said. “But Lindsey does not do that. She supports the program, she supports the coaches, she takes care of business.
“And that’s the sign of a leader. She does it in her own way, and she’s got a lot of the younger kids looking up to her, and I think she knows that.”
During the Capital City Invitational two weeks ago, Rock was struggling at the plate. Instead of letting the poor performance affect her, though, she made up for it in the field with what Haskell called “some amazing defensive plays.”
“She gets frustrated,” Haskell said, “but she doesn’t let it affect her performance. She knows she’s got to set an example. She’s maturing a lot out there.”
Rock Bridge (3-9) is competing in the tournament and will play at 4 p.m. Friday against St. Dominic (9-4) and again at 7 p.m. against either Blue Springs or Francis Howell.