CHEYENNE – Taylor Gebhart was frustrated entering Cheyenne Central’s softball games at Laramie and Cheyenne South.
The junior was batting .333 (2 for 6), but had struck out four times entering the weekend. She had watched strike three hit the catcher’s mitt three times.
Gebhart wasn’t the only Lady Indian leaving the bat on her shoulder.
“We have talked to the team a lot about how we need to stop looking at close pitches for third strikes,” Central coach Carrie Barker said. “We need to find a way to foul pitches off until we find the pitch we are looking for.
“I really don’t care if the girls strike out swinging, but we don’t want to take opportunities away from ourselves by going down looking.”
Gebhart was determined to embrace Barker’s philosophy of swinging at anything close and living with the result. It’s hard to imagine the results being any better.
Gebhart went 6 for 6 with a double, a triple, three home runs and seven RBIs to help the Indians pick up a pair of lopsided victories. Those efforts earned Gebhart Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
“I didn’t think those pitches I struck out on were strikes, but they were called strikes, so I had to learn to swing at anything close and not give any outs away,” said Gebhart, who also drew three walks on the weekend. “Some of my struggles were thinking those weren’t strikes, and some was not having the confidence to swing at another strike.”
Gebhart is now batting .570, with seven extra-base hits. Even when she got out, Gebhart still found a way to positively impact the Indians. She had a run-scoring fly out to deep center in the fifth inning of an 11-0 win over South.
Positive self-talk helped Gebhart break out of her funk, she said.
“I need to have confidence, so I told myself I’m the best hitter in the state,” Gebhart said. “I might not be the best hitter in the state statistically, but I have to step into the box with the confidence of the best hitter in the state.
“That’s going to help me get through everything.”
All three of Gebhart’s homers came during a 22-6 victory at Laramie. She drew two walks to open the game and then rapped an RBI double to center. She added a two-run homer to center in the fourth and a solo shot in the seventh.
Gebhart was sure Laramie was going to intentionally walk her with first base open during her second at-bat of the seventh. Instead, she deposited a 2-0 pitch over the center field fence for a three-run blast.
“I was sure I was going to get walked, so I was really relaxed when I went up there,” she said.
It would be unreasonable to expect Gebhart to be perfect at the plate with six extra-base hits every weekend. But what she accomplished is a sign of her potential, Barker said.
“She works really hard in the off-season and even works with a hitting coach,” Barker said. “She has put in the time and work to get where she is, and it’s really paying off.
“She works really hard and is a good leader on the field. She is one of those players you want more than one of. I’m lucky because she is only a junior, and I get another year with her.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Brogan Allen and Jayden Gashler, softball, Central: Allen, a junior, went 6 for 10 with three doubles, a triple and seven RBIs.
Gashler, a senior, was 9 for 10 with four doubles and three RBIs.
n Madisyn Baillie, girls track, Central: The sophomore cleared 5 feet, 5 inches to win high jump at the Scottsbluff Twilight on Friday. The mark also broke the Central record set by April Walden in 1983. Baillie also placed third in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
n Brenden Bohlmann and Carlos Moreno, boys soccer, East: Bohlmann scored two goals and assisted on two others during the Thunderbirds’ 7-1 victory over Cheyenne South.
Moreno added three goals and an assist.
n Marik Cummings and Kaliff Guevara, boys track and field, Cheyenne East: Cummings, a sophomore, won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Scottsbluff Twilight meet Friday. He crossed the finish line in 11.33 seconds in the 100 and 22.76 in the 200.
Guevara, a senior, won long jump (20 feet, 10 inches) and triple jump (44-1.25), and took second in the 100 (11.34).
Both athletes joined Ian Garcia and Trey Bower on the winning 4x100 relay team (44.68).
n Taliah Morris, girls track and field, East: The freshman won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Scottsbluff Twilight. She finished the 100 in 12.73 seconds and the 200 in 26.45.
Morris also leapt 17 feet, 6.5 inches to win long jump, and joined Bailey Haley, Elysiana Fonseca and Tiena Chu on the winning 4x100 relay team (51.20).
n Calie Mosely, girls soccer, Central: The junior scored three goals and dished out an assist during the Lady Indians’ 9-0 win over Cheyenne South.
n Gracie Oswald and Trista Stehwien, softball, East: Oswald went 5 for 6 with a double, a triple and five RBIs to help the Lady Thunderbirds go 1-1 on the week.
Stehwien was 6 for 8 with a double, a triple, a home run and four RBIs.
n Rylee Jo Ward, girls track and field, Burns: The junior won the 100-meter hurdles and pole vault at both the Pine Bluffs Invitational and George Calvert Invitationals. She also picked up a win in the 300 hurdles at the George Calvert.