Days into her senior softball season with her new team, Tory Villotta had already made her initial assessment.
From the infield dirt on one field at the Blair Youth Softball Complex, she looked out from under the shade of her visor at another across the way.
“They're pretty good, if I don't say so myself,” Villotta said of the 2019 Bears — the ones she'll join for one last go-around. “I think we'll make it somewhere this season.”
The standout pitcher has lived in Blair since the second grade, but has most recently made her mark on the Omaha Marian softball team. Over the past two seasons, Villotta's made 38 appearances and earned 12 wins. She's thrown 142 1/3 innings, striking out 126 including 85 in 79 innings as a junior.
At the plate, the now-former Crusader batted at a .374 average with 52 hits and 42 RBIs, according to MaxPreps.
“I'm glad she came,” Blair senior infielder Lyndsay Rahlfs said. “She's going to be a big help to the team.”
Villotta's transfer gives coach Jennifer Fangmeier seven seniors for the fall. The pitcher joins Rahlfs, Sydney Chance, Addie Mertlik, Sami MacDonald, Ashlyn McMillen and Lina Scott.
“She's going to change the intensity of the game,” Chance said of her newest teammate.
“She's always got a good attitude and she's very selfless,” Rahlfs added.
And last but not least, “She's our friend,” Chance said.
Though her Blair uniform will be new, Villotta is very familiar with her senior teammates.
“I grew playing softball with these girls and against these girls,” she said. “It'll be awesome to play my last year with them.”
The Bear plans on helping BHS — her hometown school — win.
“I hope I can do my job for them,” Villotta said. “Get ground balls, strike people out, and do my job as a hitter and a teammate. I hope I can help them out wherever they need me to.”
After three years of missing out, Blair returned to the Class B State Tournament last fall and it has every intention of making another trip back to Hastings' Bill Smith Softball Complex.
“We've all got the same common goal and we all want to work hard to get there,” Chance said.
The Bears would like to improve on their 0-2 showing as well.
“We'll just have to work hard to get back where we were and get even further,” Rahlfs said. “Get back to state and, maybe, win a couple games.”
“Making it to Hastings is always our goal, but, first, we've got to get our subdistrict and district games,” Chance added. “We have to take it one game at a time.”
Villotta is excited to do her part in a Blair uniform.
“It's just awesome to have that supportive community behind you,” she said.
For her school and teammates, it's awesome to have Tory back.