WEST TERRE HAUTE —
As I’ve stated in this space before, I don’t like change.
Somehow I’ve learned to use the Internet, Facebook and a cell phone over the last 15 years, but most changes I try to avoid because I tend to think the old-school way of doing things is better.
OK, who stole my typewriter? I want it back now!
Seriously, we’re all forced to make adjustments when society and life situations evolve.
On that note, West Vigo High School senior Alicyn Woodward makes adjustments about as well as anybody I’ve met recently.
Two years ago, for example, Woodward batted right-handed for the Vikings’ softball team. But in the summer of 2009, she was convinced that she would hit more effectively as a lefty.
So she moved to the other side of the batter’s box and her 2011 offensive statistics indicate it was the correct decision.
“I was a power hitter right-handed,” Woodward explained. “But when I switched travel teams to the one I’m on now [in the summer], they told me that with my speed, I should be left-handed and I’d be quicker out of the box.”
Before West Vigo’s game at North Vermillion on Friday, Woodward owned a .554 batting average with 24 runs scored and 28 stolen bases this season.
Usually occupying the lead-off spot in the Vikings’ lineup, she posted at least three hits in five of their first 16 games, including a 3-for-3 performance in a loss to Terre Haute South last week.
“Before my junior year, I played around with [batting left-handed] but didn’t really think I’d ever switch,” Woodward recalled. “I like it now.”
“She’s fast,” West Vigo coach Cherish Easton said as she started to rattle off Woodward’s attributes on offense. “She can put the ball in play. She’s smart. She knows the game. She has experience with the game. She’d do anything to help the team. If I needed her at catcher, she’d get back there at catcher and she’d do a good job.”
Beating out bunts has become one of Woodward’s trademarks since she transformed into a lefty. That’s probably because she lays the ball down with pinpoint accuracy and — as Easton mentioned — she runs fast for a high school girl.
South coach Steve Woerner thinks she is one of the best high school bunters he’s seen in recent years.
“There are a couple good bunters who play for Ben Davis in the MIC [Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference],” he noted, “but Alicyn and Haley Chambers up there at Riverton Parke are the two best I’ve seen.”
Easton described Woodward as a triple-threat hitter.
“She can bunt, she can slap and she can hit,” Easton said. “A lot of teams aren’t quite sure where to play her [defensively] because if they move in one direction, she’s going to do something else and still get on base.”
Back to the subject of “change,” Woodward showed her commitment to the team by going from a full-time center fielder to serving as West Vigo’s No. 1 pitcher in 2011, even though she hadn’t pitched regularly since doing it for a 14-and-under summer team a few years ago.
“I’m definitely not the best pitcher,” she admitted with a chuckle. “I love pitching. It’s fun. I like to be in control of the game the whole game. I’m not the best, but I work at it.”
Woodward still excels as a center fielder when she’s not pitching. In fact, that’s what she’ll do when she goes to Olney Central College to play next season.
“I never have any doubts with Woody in the outfield,” Easton emphasized. “She’s quick. She’s not afraid to dive after the ball. She has a good arm. I love to see when runners want to test her and she gets them out.”
Woodward chose Olney Central for a variety of reasons.
“I like Nick Short as a coach and I like how he sets up everything,” she mentioned. “I liked the school when I went there [for a visit] and it’s not that far from home.”
“I definitely think she can be a significant college player,” Easton added. “She’s going to turn some heads. She’s going to be a key player for Olney.”
But for now, Woodward is focused on getting West Vigo turned around from a 6-10 start (1-2 in the Western Indiana Conference).
“It does get frustrating,” she said about losing so often. “It’s real frustrating when we have the game on the line and we know we can win or we’re ahead and we make silly, mental errors and physical errors. That puts us behind, then we lose all focus and we’re out of the game.”
Easton said Woodward has remained a positive influence on the team, despite her frustration with losing.
“Alicyn has a really good mental game,” the Vikings’ coach noted. “So she sets a good example for the other players.”
Asked about the team’s goals for the rest of the season, Woodward didn’t hesitate to answer.
“We hope to win conference and win as many games as we can from here on out,” she stressed.
For Woodward and the rest of the Vikings, that would be the most fun change of all.
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.