BUTTE — After last year's spring season was jettisoned before it even began, teams across the state began practicing this week.
For the Butte Central softball team, and likely many other programs, there still isn't much to be accomplished outside as fields continue to defrost.
"You really can't do a lot in a gym," conceded first-year coach Bill "Chunky" Thatcher who was hired in December. "We're gonna work on our hitting. It like what I see right now."
Thatcher, a Central graduate with years of AAU coaching experience, was origially hesitant to take over the Maroons after his niece, Kelci Thatcher, stepped down after eight years in which her teams advanced to the State A tournament every year except 2019.
"I felt I was just getting a little too old for it," Bill said. "But then some mothers came to me and then my brother (John) talked me into it. And the more I thought about it, it gives me some time to spend with my last daughter."
Thatcher's daughter, Sofee, is a junior on the team.
Central is low on numbers but Thatcher feels the team will still be "solid through nine kids." The Maroons have two seniors, Maci Reopelle and Maddi Kump, both captains.
And with turnout low at this point, Thatcher, known as much for his coaching prowess as his sense of humor, wants to make sure that his players put forth the necessary effort but also enjoy the experience.
"There will be pizzas in the dugout there will be hopefully pizzas in the other team's dugout," Thatcher said. "We're gonna compete but they're gonna have a good time playing."
It may be a young team, but the Maroons still have plenty of ambition as they get set to take the field for the first time in nearly two years.
"It was so fun my freshman year when we made it," Kump said, referring Central's last trip to state. "And I think we can really do it this year. We didn't have a season last year and it was really upsetting but I think if we work hard this year we'll make it to state for sure."