Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
FRANKFORT — During practice last season, Adena’s Sydnie Havens took batting practice with a bucket directly in front of her left foot.
At the time, the sophomore was over-striding, failing to make meaningful contact with the ball. So her instructions were simple: stay back on the pitch and don’t touch the bucket.
When Havens finally perfected her mechanics, she started to rip the cover off the ball … and hasn’t stopped since.
“She was overstriding so we put the bucket in front of her and said, ‘You’re not going to hit that bucket,’” Adena coach Greg Storts said. “Now, she’s staying back on the ball. She’s had the right attitude about it. She’ll come to you and she’s not afraid to take the criticism.”
Now a junior, Havens is leading a resurgence inside the Warriors’ softball program while hitting .365 (19-of-52) alongside seven extra-base hits including three triples and a home run, 19 runs scored and 18 RBIs.
And, with a boatload of confidence, she no longer needs a bucket to put on a hitting clinic during batting practice.
“I’ve loved the game since I was little and when I started playing,” Havens said. “Last year, I struggled quite a bit. This year, I just told myself that I was going to hit. I just had the confidence to drive the ball when I went up there and that’s what I started to do.”
After the Warriors started the season on a sour note, Havens and her teammates have turned the ship around, piecing together a 6-4 mark in their last 10 contests with wins over Northwest, Washington, Piketon, Southeastern and Zane Trace.
That’s after starting 0-6. The key to the turnaround? Simply a change of attitude.
“Confidence is the biggest thing for us,” Havens said. “At the beginning of the season, we were getting beat an we were getting down on ourselves. We just told ourselves that we were going to pick it up. We’ve done that. We’re a family. We pick each other up and we go out of our way to let each other know what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong and what we can get better at.”
Havens has helped her team nail down that new trend by setting the tone at the top of the lineup on a nightly basis. No matter who the Warriors are playing, their opponent knows they’re in for a challenging evening when Havens steps to the dish.
And Storts would have it no other way.
“You’re not going to get a better kid than Sydnie Havens,” Storts said. “She cares about her teammates, does the right things and she’s never in trouble. The work ethic … she would go through both practices last year just to try and get better. Everyday, it’s ‘Coach, what can I do to get better?’ You see her backing out of the box and thinking about what she needs to do and what the situation is. She’s a five-tool player.”
After finishing the regular season, Havens and the Warriors will start their tournament run in a Division III sectional semifinal on May 7 against Northwest. Adena beat the Mohawks by a 12-9 final back on April 16.
With Havens leading the charge — alongside hitters like Sarah Posey, Jade Johnson, Chey Ater, Livia Sheppard and others — the Warriors believe they can be a tough out.
“I think we have the potential to do some big things this year,” Havens said. “I think our offense is going to start picking it up even more. We’ve been hitting better. I think that continues. It’s been nice getting some young talent coming up and we’re going to have more next year. I’m excited for it.”