Larkin's softball team had reason to be a little nervous Thursday.
It's been a long time since the Royals took the field without Larry Hight as their head coach.
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Hight stepped down after 16 years at the helm and Larkin's new coach, Anne Vogt, sent her team to battle Thursday for the first time this season against Maine South.
And while Larkin may have lost Vogt's debut coaching her alma mater 4-0, their new leader was full of optimism after the game.
"Ten to fifteen games from now, we win this game," said Vogt, who coached at Elgin Community College for 12 years before taking over at the school she graduated from in 1992.
"The kids were nervous today. The whole idea of a new coach and the little things that we continue to work on day in and day out. We've got a little higher expectations."
The Royals and senior right-hander Kiernan Schock stayed right with the Hawks until the visitors used two throwing errors on bunts to scratch out an unearned run in the top of the fourth inning. Schock, who struck out three and walked four, allowed only 6 hits on the day but 5 errors hurt Larkin, as well as the inability to put the bat on the ball.
Larkin got only 2 singles off Maine South sophomore Jenna Christy, who struck out 13 and walked only one. Alex Buhrow and Danielle Bauer had Larkin's only hits and the Royals didn't get a runner past second base.
"We gotta hit the ball," Vogt said. "The reality is we have to hit the ball. There's no reason we didn't make better contact, but it will come. If you're watching this game into the fourth inning you're saying, 'Hey, Larkin's here to play.' But there were a lot of nerves today. I've been coaching 12 years and I was nervous. But now it feels like home."
Vogt pointed to her team's youth and inexperience at some positions as well.
"Beth Barry has never played first base," Vogt said. "We just told her a few days ago she was going to be playing first. We need to work on her stretch a little but she did a nice job. And we had some nice plays in the infield by our shortstop (Jaclyn Saurbaugh) and our second baseman (freshman Beka Harrington). We tell them nothing gets up the middle and they made a couple nice stops today."
The Royals return to the field Saturday when they host Dundee-Crown in an 11 a.m. doubleheader.
"I'm excited," Vogt said. "It's an opportunity for us to win a couple games and get on the right track. The nerves are gone now and we're ready to rock and roll."