Softball: Jacqui Sheftz returns to coach Trumbull
No time is wasted when Trumbull High head softball coach Jacqui Sheftz runs the Eagles through pre-game drills prior to a recent scrimmage. Each unit is active throughout; there is no standing around.
Sheftz hits ball after ball right outside a defender’s comfort zone. Is it out of the infielder’s reach? Maybe but maybe not. Before long they are coming up with the grounders, uniforms dirty but the play being made.
Outfielders are put through their paces. Before long they are taking the extra two steps needed running at full speed before reaching out with their glove to pluck the ball out of the air. Prepare for the tough plays and soon they become routine.
“The team probably thought I was a little nuts at first, but game preparation starts with the little things,” Sheftz said. “From the way we dress and how our equipment lines up, to how we take the field and warm-up for games. I know it's going to be a work in progress, but we are slowly trying to infuse the things that we have seen as a recipe for success into this team.”
Sheftz is the perfect person to prepare the Eagles for the upcoming FCIAC campaign.
In 16 seasons, two at Staples of Westport and 14 at Masuk High in Monroe, Sheftz’ teams won 286 of 387 games. From 2003-14, Masuk went to the state finals seven times, winning three titles. The Panthers were South-West Conference champions six times and division champs in eight seasons.
“The team has picked up quickly on our style of coaching and how we want things done,” she said. “It's a great group to work with; they are talented, coachable and passionate about the sport. They are a lot of fun to be around. They continue to ask good questions and have a willingness to learn.”
Erica Christopher and Marylu Matott are Sheftz’ longtime assistant coaches. Chris Caridi, last year’s freshman coach, moves up to take over the jayvee program.
“I have always believed in surrounding myself with good people, as we are not just trying to build a program, but establishing a culture and that starts with us as leaders,” Sheftz said.
“There is decades worth of trust and loyalty amongst this staff; we share the same philosophies about the sport and we are all on the same page as to how things should and will be taught. Not to mention the fact that they are still willing to work with me after all these years.”
Sheftz is happy to return to the softball diamond.
“Taking last year off reminded me how much I missed the sport and how much I truly value the daily interactions with the student-athletes,” she said. “I feel recharged; it's something new and exciting and as much as building a program is a challenge, I relish this opportunity.
“I couldn't imagine a better fit with being able to work with one the state's best, Athletic Director Mike King, the parents and student-athletes of our program, as well as the Trumbull community as a whole.
“Trumbull High has such a rich tradition in academics and athletics, and it's an honor to now be a part of it. The girls within our program have been amazing. With everything being new and all the changes that have already been implemented, it all has been well received.
“Just the progress of our student-athletes shows us that we are heading in the right direction.”