Since she was 6 months old, Jeanette Yoder has been around softball.
She then went from attending her father’s fastpitch games to playing and managing and has built a lifelong passion for the sport.
This spring, she’s adding coaching the team at Crothersville High School to her résumé.
Yoder played at Fairfield High School in Goshen before managing the team at Indiana Wesleyan University. After graduating from college, she moved down to Crothersville for a job opportunity during the 2005-06 school year.
In her first year of teaching, Yoder also worked as an assistant coach.
She worked with the program for several years but then stepped away for a time.
However, she couldn’t stay away for long, as she returned last year as a volunteer assistant coach.
When the head coaching job was posted this school year, she jumped on it.
“It just felt like the timing was right,” Yoder said. “The past couple times that the job had opened up, I hadn’t really realized that it had opened. By the time I found out, it was already filled.”
Yoder said she specializes in pitching and hitting and expects a lot from the team in her first season at the helm.
“I want the girls to work hard and play hard,” she said. “I want 100 percent effort. I want them to pay attention during practice and are always doing the best they can.”
The Tigers have struggled with numbers the past few seasons. They had nine players last season and have the same roster size this season.
Yoder said there are advantages and disadvantages to having a small team.
“We’re a family,” Yoder said. “It’s a small community, and there are only nine girls on the team. If there are arguments or drama, it needs to get worked out. We can’t afford to have girls mad at each other and have girls not play well or quit.”
Yoder already has a plan to get more kids out in the future.
“We have started a junior high team,” Yoder said. “It’s not technically a school-sanctioned team, but we have seven games on our schedule right now. That should help for next year. The park program has had softball teams, but it was a wide range of ages from 11 to 15. You’re talking fourth-graders to freshmen in high school. It’s not really effective for the older or younger girls.”
The junior high team will be coached by Bailey Jeffries, who also will assist the high school team and has worked with Austin’s program the past couple of years.
Coming off a 1-13 season, the Tigers’ varsity hopes to be more competitive this season.
Yoder knows it will require growth but said she believes the team can give more teams tougher matchups in 2018.
“One of our goals is to play seven innings,” Yoder said. “That’s something that I don’t think we did at all last year. We want to be competitive. It may take a few games or all season, but hopefully, we will see improvements as we go through the season.”
The Tigers will open season Saturday at Springs Valley.