As the New Albany High School softball team stumbled out of the gate, coach Patrick Finn could sense some anger and frustration amongst the players.

As the New Albany High School softball team stumbled out of the gate, coach Patrick Finn could sense some anger and frustration amongst the players.

The record was somewhat understandable considering the schedule the Eagles had faced, but Finn realized the frustration was understandable, too. The key for the Eagles now, and what he believes he's starting to see, is whether they can use that emotion toward something positive on the field.

"We'll have a couple dropped balls here and there, we get frustrated, then we'll have a couple more errors," Finn said. "We're starting now to figure out to focus our anger on the next play to really pinpoint in on things."

After a 13-7 loss to Watkins Memorial on April 16, the Eagles had their most intense practice of the season, but there were no complaints from players afterward. In fact, they believe the adversity of the first part of the season ultimately could strengthen the bond within the team.

"I feel like, honestly, that's brought us closer together and made us work harder in practice," senior Chelsea Bowe said. "(The practice April 17), that was about the hardest we've ever worked. I feel like that kind of stuff brings us together and builds chemistry on the field."

The Eagles will have a brief respite after playing six games in the past nine days. Their next game is Monday against Franklin Heights, which they beat 10-1 on April 9, followed by games Tuesday at Newark and Wednesday at home against Dublin Scioto.

With the exception of a few games, the Eagles have been hitting the ball fairly well. Senior shortstop Gabby Wood led the team in average through 12 games, hitting .333 with five runs and a stolen base. Junior outfielder Alyson Mott was second at .316 and had a team-high six stolen bases. Senior third baseman Nicole Shuck led the team with six runs scored, and freshman catcher Tiffany Goodrich had a team-best four doubles.

The offensive output actually has been a pleasant surprise to Finn, who expected this team would rely on its defense while the offense took its time to come around.

"It's kind of been flip-flopped from where I thought we'd be," Finn said. "Whereas I thought we'd be extremely strong defensively while the offense took time to catch up, I think we've been stronger offensively and now we're trying to pull everyone together defensively."

Finn said the defense really hasn't been bad, just inconsistent. The Eagles have been hurt by one or two big innings per game, which often have been spurred by errors. In the Watkins Memorial loss, the Eagles committed nine errors.

Nonetheless, players and coaches believe they aren't far from turning the corner, and considering the team finished second-place in the league at just6-4 last year, they aren't giving up on the conference race yet. Players and coaches feel that the morale is on the rise, but they're still holding on to a little bit of the fire sparked by the early losses.

"We're coming back angry," Wood said, "and we're ready to win."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the New Albany softball team:

*April 15 -- Lost to Dublin Scioto 12-2

*April 16 -- Lost to Watkins Memorial 13-7. The Eagles outhit the Warriors 9-8.

Last Saturday -- Lost to Whitehall 3-0; lost to Reynoldsburg 8-2

*Last Monday -- Def. Big Walnut 2-1

Last Tuesday -- Played Buckeye Valley

*Last Wednesday -- Played Olentangy Liberty

*Monday -- Home vs. Franklin Heights

Tuesday -- At Newark

*Wednesday -- Home vs. Scioto

Of note: The Eagles were 2-11 overall before last Tuesday and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Capital game