The school's athletic director took over as interim softball coach shortly before the season started
It wasn't the way Kaitlin Yealy expected her senior season with the Littlestown softball team to start.
A week before the Thunderbolts' season began on March 29, Yealy and her teammates received some surprising news when Henry Wardrop, who took over as Littlestown's head coach before last season, resigned for "personal reasons," according to athletic director and interim softball coach Jeff Laux.
"I didn't know what we were going to do," Yealy said. "We were all wondering who the coach was going to be. But then we found out it was (Laux) and we got back to practice and everything fell into place."
The unexpected coaching change hasn't hurt Littlestown's performance so far. The Thunderbolts improved to 4-0 on Friday after beating Biglerville, 16-0.
According to Yealy, the Thunderbolts have managed to stay calm and focused despite Wardrop's resignation. She credited that to the positive attitude that Laux and her teammates both brought to the table.
"I think everyone has (become a leader), to be honest," Yealy said. "Everyone has had an open mind, no attitude at all. It’s worked really well.
"We definitely miss (Coach Wardrop) a lot but we love Coach Laux too. We wish nothing but the best for (Wardrop) but we think we can go just as far."
After going 18-5 and wining YAIAA Division III last season, the Thunderbolts entered 2016 with high expectations. According to Laux, those expectations haven't changed since he took over.
“We move in steps," Laux said. "Goal one is to win the division, goal two is to win the county championship and then do what we can in districts and states. Right now we’re focused on winning the division, that’s goal one.”
Although Laux had never coached softball before this season, he did have more than 10 years of experience coaching baseball, including a stint as an assistant at Bloomsburg University.
While that experience has made the transition pretty smooth, Laux admitted he has had to lean on his players for advice at times. With six seniors and 11 returning varsity players on the team, that hasn't been a problem.
"There’s similarities (between baseball and softball) but also a lot of differences," Laux said. "There’s a lot to learn and the girls are helping me along. They’ve done a great job and there's a lot of talent here."
The Thunderbolts have plenty of talent, highlighted by Yealy, senior pitcher McKenzie Somers, senior third basemen Emily Lanahan and sophomore catcher Amanda Dyson. So far, Littlestown is averaging more than 14 runs per game and has outscored its opponents 56-5 in four games.
But the Thunderbolts are focused on achieving more than just winning early regular-season games. Yealy said the team is determined to qualify for the state tournament, a goal it fell short of last season when it lost in the second round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
"I think we all agree that we can do a little better than what we've been doing and we;re working hard to do that," she said. "We have really big goals this season. We want to go to states but our first goal is districts."