While the college softball season may still be six months away, College of Southern Maryland second-year head coach Rebecca Collins has been gradually enhancing her roster for the upcoming 2020 slate for the Hawks.
Last month, Collins, who had previously coached softball at Lackey High School prior to the 2019 season, signed a trio of players for the 2020 campaign, two of whom just graduated from Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools.
Chopticon High School graduate Haley Hands of Morganza, Leonardtown High graduate and Leonardtown resident Laila Brooks and Gwynn Park graduate Aleah Davis of Brandywine, all signed last month.
“My main focus coming into this season was getting girls that could hit,” Collins said. “Last year, we lost a lot of games 2-1, 3-1 and we just didn’t give [pitcher] Skylar [Clark] the run support she needed. All of these girls can really swing the bat. I think our lineup is going to be really solid top to bottom.”
Collins, who noted recent Calvert High School graduate Alexis Commodore verbally committed to the team and registered for the fall semester, expanded the fall schedule to include six games and the spring season will now include a trip to Florida during spring break for another six games. Her newest group of freshmen recruits should fit right in with the team.
“They are team players,” Collins said of her incoming trio. “Laila plays third base primarily, but if I put her somewhere else I know she will do the job there. That’s a big part of recruiting these days — finding somebody who’s willing to put the team ahead of themselves. The other thing, too, is they all want to progress further to play at four-year universities.”
During her playing days with Chopticon, Hands also played a number of roles for the Braves. Last season as a catcher, third baseman and shortstop she batted .393 with three home runs and collected 26 RBIs. Like her incoming teammates, Hands is eager to contribute to CSM’s success this spring in various ways and then play for a four-year school in the future.
“It’s the best bet for me and this is a good softball program,” Hands said. “It just seemed right for me. I’m very excited [to get the season started]. I love softball so much. I’ve been playing it all my life, so I’m excited.”
Brooks, who played several infield positions for the Raiders the last two seasons, is expected to have several roles for the Hawks in the spring. Last season at Leonardtown, she batted .379 with four homers and 23 RBIs. Davis played several infield positions at Gwynn Park and also caught for the Yellow Jackets during her three seasons on the squad.
“I decided to come play at CSM because it helps me develop my skills as a softball player, and I can transfer after two seasons to another college,” Davis said. “I’m very excited. It’s a good opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to working with all the players.”
With very little time to recruit prior to her first season at the helm in 2019, Collins is eager to see how well the 2020 campaign will unfold with several key returning players providing the foundation for a program that is still in quest of adding freshman to the roster.
“I think we’re taking a step in the right direction,” said Collins, who spent two seasons as a assistant coach under Jim Cleary. “The girls seem really energetic and excited to get started. A lot of them want to start working out and they’ve actually been working out together. And they’re inviting the new girls to join them, so that’s great, too, because they’re all getting to know each other. All three of the new signees will be huge assets for CSM.”