First, Springer was bumped up to the varsity team from junior varsity early in the season. Then she was the subject of a debate between then-coach Mike Tucker and his staff -- whether she would play second base or shortstop.
“I didn’t really like playing second base because I felt I had to a good enough arm to play somewhere else,” said Springer, now a sophomore. “They finally got it in their head and put me at shortstop.”
The transition to shortstop worked out well for Saks, which went on to be the best team in its classification. This year, Springer has continued to improve, helping Saks return to the Class 3A state tournament, which begins Friday. The Lady Wildcats open at noon against Winfield at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
“I’m just trying to go out there and show out for my team and give it everything I’ve got. We just need to go out there and play our game and make plays,” Springer said. “We may be young, but we’re on varsity for a reason. We’re working hard for our seniors. I feel like we could make a run for it again.”
This year, Springer has developed into one of the team’s top offensive threats. Still starting at shortstop, she is batting .356 with a team-high 57 hits and 30 runs.
“I don’t even think she was hitting as well on JV as she is now,” Saks first-year coach Michelle Lively said. “She’s just taken on this role of wanting to be the first person on base and wanting to be the first person to touch home. That’s just her goal.”
The hard work Springer put in during the offseason showed in the South
Central Regional last weekend, as she hit a team-high .467 with seven hits in four games, including a 4-for-4 performance against Susan Moore on Friday.
“I’ve been hitting a lot more this year and getting points for my team,” she said. “We just had some workouts and stuff. I don’t have a special trainer
I just work on my technique and skills and the rest just comes naturally.”
And Springer’s strong play on the field at a pivotal position also has transformed the underclassman into a vocal leader.
“It’s crazy that someone is like that as 10th-grader,” Lively said. “I think she made some plays last year at the state tournament, but she just has a drive for it now. I don’t know what happened between basketball season and softball season, but she’s just gotten super serious about it.”
While Springer has made personal adjustments from being on junior varsity to a second-year starter, Saks as a whole has also made improvements this season, as well, after starting the year 2-4. Now at 34-14-1, Lively said the Lady Wildcats simply need to hit better for ace pitcher Taylor West, who has thrown eight no-hitters and six perfect games this season.
“From where I saw us when we started, I knew we weren’t back at the level we were last year. Of course you’ve got that target on your back and no one thought we were going to repeat and we started out pretty weak,” Lively said. “But eventually we turned it on and it clicked after we won the Lincoln tournament earlier in the year. We just kept getting better and getting better.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at
256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star