A year ago, the Dawson County softball team was in a unique situation, with seven seniors making up the bulk of the team’s roster and offensive output.
But this season, head coach Justin Rickett is coaching a team with a mix of youth and experience, needing a new group of seniors to step up and lead.
One of those seniors is Lauren Kurtz, an infielder coming off a second-team All-Region season and looking forward to an even more productive year.
For Kurtz, leading by example begins with showing the younger players that the mental side of the game requires as much attention as the physical side.
“I’ve learned that if I make an error, I need to recover quickly so that the younger players don’t see that the leaders are down in their heads,” Kurtz said. “Be confident with what you do.”
Since summer practices began, Rickett added two seniors to the previous three coming back from last year’s team.
With that solid group of mature players, Kurtz is more easily able to help continue the strong team culture that led the team to a run in the state playoffs last season.
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Reflecting on the success of that group, largely because of how close they were with each other, Kurtz’s goal for this season’s team is simple: winning.
“I think our team dynamic [last year] just got better and the way we communicated and worked together as a team got us far,” Kurtz said. “It will build up as the season goes on [this year]. There’s a lot of young players and a lot of us haven’t played together. We’ll get used to each other and eventually it will work out.”
For Rickett, having someone like Kurtz is an important piece of the season-long puzzle to get just the right balance on the roster.
In addition to her ability to lead, it is her skills on the field and commitment to fitness that also influences many of the younger players.
“I think something Lauren does that gets a lot of respect from her teammates is how athletic she is,” Rickett said. “The most important quality is that she’s a good teammate. She is always smiling and friendly, and I don’t know that there’s anybody on the team she doesn’t like. She treats everybody the same way.”
That combination of skill and camaraderie will be important as the team looks to make another run in the state playoffs.
Outside of softball, Kurtz enjoys shopping, working out and hanging out with friends. She enjoys studying science and is interested in entering the medical field after high school, specifically in dermatology.