PREP SOFTBALL: ‘Grow together as a team and family’: West Point’s Katie Beth Yovino recaps sophomore season

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West Point’s Katie Beth Yovino. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. — West Point sophomore Katie Beth Yovino was moved from the JV squad to the varsity team toward the end of last season. She talked about that experience, what she learned and what it was like playing with a great group of girls.

“It was definitely something new and there were bigger crowds. I learned how to focus on just my game and what I was doing rather than what was going on in the crowd,” Yovino said. “It was a great environment. I feel like we all got along pretty well and when it came down to it, we all tried to work together and find the best outcome of the game we could. Coach Kent and Coach Hill were great. They both know how to explain things very well and how to pick you up if you are down or when you make a mistake. I’ve also learned from them that the games may not be perfect games, but if I do make a mistake, grow from it and focus on the next play.”

Katie learned some things from the upperclassmen and from senior Brooklynn Wells. She will work on some things in the off-season to get ready for the upcoming season.

“The upperclassmen taught me that we all have each other’s backs, and as long as we trust each other to do our own jobs, then the wins will come. It’s almost like you have to play like a family,” Yovino said. “Brooklynn was great. She was always encouraging and had something to say. I learned from her that if you love a sport and your team, then you’re willing to put in as much work as it takes. This off-season, I’m working to better myself in fundamentals such as passing and hitting, because when you have the mechanics right, then the hits and power will come.”

Katie has some individual and team goals set for next season, plus she talked about what will make this team special to watch.

“My individual goals are to have a solid, steady season and just improve on everything. The team goals are to win county, area, and for us to grow together as a team and family. I believe as long as we work hard, we should be able to reach these goals,” she said. “Our team as a whole is a very energetic, well-driven, and persistent team. We work hard to reach what we want to achieve. Therefore, I feel like if we all set a goal, we can achieve big things. This past year, I feel like we were a young team and most of us weren’t used to playing varsity, but now that we’ve had that experience, we will be able to thrive and achieve whatever we put our minds to.”

Katie talked about her experience on the JV and the varsity basketball teams. She took away so much from that experience and she learned so much from playing with this group of girls and from her coaches.

“I believe I performed well on the JV team. The varsity did very well. I feel like this season was solid. We played some good ball games. We had a good chance of performing well as a team and we almost had it. I learned that defense will definitely win ball games and that if you miss a shot or mess up, it’s okay because the game just keeps going; it doesn’t stop. I also learned about good defense and how to better my shooting,” she said. “This group of girls definitely has a lot of talent and potential. I’ve learned that you just need to focus on your game and your job and nothing else. The coaches were always very encouraging and hard on us when it mattered. I learned that I have to persevere through tough games, and we need to leave it all on the court.”

Katie will continue to work hard in the off-season to get ready for next season, plus she talked about her goals and the team goals and what will make this team special to watch.

“I will work on my shooting and my defense. Individually, I hope to shoot over 50%, and team-wise, I hope to make a run at Regionals,” she said. “Last year, we were very young, but I feel like everyone has adapted to the varsity level of sports.”

West Point’s softball team had another good season and Katie talked about that season, plus what she learned, what it was like playing with this group of girls, and what she learned from the seniors.

“I feel like our season ended too early and that was kind of unexpected after our state run last year. However, I also believe that we all grew and learned to adapt to whatever circumstances we were given. I took away that if you work hard, you will see results and get noticed. Even in hard games, whoever wants it more will come out on top,” she said. “This group of girls is a fun, energetic, and driven group. I feel like we all connect like we’re a family in a way. The seniors have definitely influenced my view on certain aspects of life. For example, Bethany Minck has encouraged me to work hard to achieve what I want and to always smile, no matter what.”

She added,

“From Bailey, I learned to always have fun and to play your best. From Bethany, I learned where hard work and dedication could get me, and from Lexi, I learned to focus on the game and leave everything else outside the fence.”

Katie played for a couple of first-year coaches in Justin Cornelius and Madisen Adams and learned some things from them. She talked about what she learned the most about this team, plus what she will work on to get ready for 2024 and her goals, plus her goals and the team goals.

“Our coaches want us to be the best we can be and believe that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to. It was a great environment, and they were very encouraging. They always made sure we kept our heads up if we made a mistake and just move on to the next play. From coach Cornelius, I learned that the mental side of the game is just as important as the physical or talent side of the game. From coach Adams, I learned to put in the work and push myself to be the best I can be,” she said. “Playing with this team taught me that it’s more than just softball and that we all should trust each other to execute our own job, and everything will be fine.”

She added,

“I will work on my hitting, fielding, catching, and work on bettering myself as a whole. My individual goals are to keep a batting average around .300-.400, to have less than five errors, and to get consistent base hits. My team goals are to have another deep run in the playoffs, to continue the county streak, and to have less than four errors a game.”

Katie talked about what will make this team special to watch, her role models growing up, and the best advice that someone ever gave her.

“This team will be special to watch because most of us have played together since we were little and it will be cool to see how we still work together and form a great team even now,” she said. “When I was younger, I knew a couple of the girls on the team in Molly Pendley and Gracie Thompson and I knew that I wanted to play on the team one day because it looked like fun. However, between now and then, I’ve developed a love for the sport and can’t imagine not playing. The best advice I’ve ever been given was from one of my former coaches. He told me that all my hard work would pay off and I could be great someday. He was hard on me because he knew I could achieve what I wanted to achieve.”

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