Charleston Catholic softball coach Kevin Corbett’s experience through the canceled season has been a bit different than the rest of the Kanawha Valley coaches.
He will lose a senior class of five players, including his daughter Olivia.
In addition to saying goodbye to four other upperclassmen, Corbett is preparing to send his child off to college and was forced to end a softball journey the two began together so many years ago.
“It’s meant a lot,” Kevin Corbett said. “She gave up basketball this year to train and be the best [softball player] she could be. Last year, she made [Class A] second-team All-State and this year she wanted to make first team and play in the North-South game. She had really worked hard over the winter months to get ready for the season and to see it crash down, it was unbelievable for us.”
Olivia Corbett turned in her finest prep season yet last year, going 14-11 (accounting for all of the team’s decisions) while striking out 164 hitters and turning in a 2.64 ERA. She also set a school record by hitting 16 doubles to go with a .527 batting average and drove in a team-high 37 runs.
In addition to having their workhorse in the circle, the Irish were also due to return experience across the infield, relying on a group of five freshmen to fill in holes where needed.
“I really could see that those kids were going to come on,” Kevin Corbett said of the youngsters. “We had 10 days in already [when the season was shut down] and they were looking good in my personal opinion with what we were doing. I feel like there was not a team on our schedule that we couldn’t beat. That’s based on years of seeing these kids and knowing what those teams lost and where we stood.”
Junior Hanna Casey was back at catcher after hitting .371 with 21 RBIs as a sophomore. Seniors Sophia Veasey (first base) and Ashton Brown (second base) were both poised to return to their starting positions as well. Finally, senior Reagan Good was set for a position change, heading to shortstop after starting in center field for the most part a year ago.
A couple of freshmen were in the running to fill in holes in the outfield. Elise Hopkins, granddaughter of former Valley football coach Benny Hopkins, was one of those players. Also, Katherine Skinner, who may be in the running to take over as the soccer team’s goalkeeper next season, would have likely seen playing time.
Beyond that, Kevin Corbett said the middle school program has several solid players in it for the next few years. In terms of girls athletics, Charleston Catholic has traditionally been a soccer, tennis, basketball and swimming school. Now, armed with brand new uniforms, Corbett hopes the softball program is turning a new leaf and will continue to rise.
“We were solid at all positions with the freshmen coming in and that should only make it better for later on,” he said. “With these freshmen coming up, I wasn’t worried about the outfield. A few of them could run like deer.”
With Olivia Corbett moving on and possibly continuing her playing career at Wheeling University (she’s undecided on whether she will play or not), Kevin Corbett’s long-term future with the program could be in question. But as far as next season goes, he’s committed to return and continue to build toward further solidifying the program.
“My assistant coach Alexander Macia, he has a daughter [Alex] that’s a junior and over the last couple of years I’ve had a few health issues and he stuck in and helped me out,” Corbett said. “I said I wouldn’t leave him as long as his daughter was here.
“I knew this was a building year, but I think we would’ve put up good numbers and in our sectional, I think we could’ve held our own.”