CENTER, Mo. — Being on the softball diamond became more of a chore than something fun for Sydnee Brothers.
"We kind of started to resent each other," said Brothers, a junior for the Mark Twain softball team.
The on-field results compounded that. The Tigers went 1-22 last fall and lost their final 14 games of the season.
However, there’s a sense of a fresh start this year. Mark Twain is now coached by Jordan Bogue, who spent time coaching the baseball program, and has brought life back into the program.
"It’s a lot more fun now," Brothers said. "We actually want to be together."
That was one of the first things Bogue wanted to accomplish when he took over in the offseason. He knew the players had to mesh for there to be any chance of success on the field. He also got more girls to come out for softball, and has 23 players in the program.
"I don’t know if I’m changing much from (former Mark Twain coach Kachina Hudson)," Bogue said. "We’re just trying to come out with a positive attitude and making sure they come out and have fun playing softball again."
He also wants to use the tough last two years — the Tigers have won just four games in that span — as something to build from.
"They know what it’s like to come out and have a bad game," Bogue said. "But that’s only going to help them grow. We just have to put ourselves in a position to not beat ourselves."
Mark Twain graduated Bria Hooley and Paige Eddington from last season. Eddington led Mark Twain with a .370 batting average and had four doubles.
Everyone else, however, is back for the Tigers. Brothers returns after hitting .311 with a double, a home run and four RBIs. Even with all those returning starters, only five players had batting averages higher than .200.
The Tigers know that needs to change to have success.
"We’ll have to communicate well," junior Molly Hill said.
The players are eager to do that.
"Everyone has a new attitude about everything," Brothers said. "It’s all fresh because we believe this season’s going to be different."
Bogue sees that, too.
"I just want the girls to be active and not standing around in practice," Bogue said. "We just want to be ready. The energy has been extremely positive so far. They’re here and ready to go as soon as practice starts."