The Dominion High girls’ softball team is under a new head coach this season with Tom Chuba at the helm of the program.
Chuba, who was the head JV coach at Oakton High School over the past 10 years, takes over for former Dominion coach Chris Tully, who is now the assistant athletic director at Potomac Falls High School.
Chuba, who was hired as the Titans’ new coach just after Christmas, looks forward to the challenge of his new position.
"This year is a learning experience for both me and the team," said Chuba. "We’ve had a lot of fun. I’m learning about their skills and their learning about my coaching skills."
<b>Dominion opened</b> up the new season on March 12 with a tough 16-0 loss at non-district opponent Herndon. Hornets’ starting pitcher Katie Rynex, a hard-throwing senior with good control, earned the shutout win for the home team.
"Herndon’s pitcher is very strong and throws 60-65 miles per hour," said Chuba. "She’s very fast. For some of our players, it was difficult to face that kind of speed. They got to learn what that kind of pitcher is like."
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Herndon broke the game open with several runs.
"Our goal was not to break down and allow a big inning," said Chuba. "But a series of misplays really opened the floodgates for Herndon in the bottom of the fourth. It was frustrating for the girls to have that happen."
Chuba was pleased that Dominion had a couple of good scoring opportunities against Rynex. Unfortunately for the Titans, they could not come up with the big hit to knock in runners on base.
"We had a couple of scoring chances," he said.
<b>Dominion</b> has 12 returning players from last year’s team and is certain to show improvement as this season gets going. One of the Titans’ top players this spring is senior Diondra `Dee Dee’ Fryer, who is currently playing shortstop.
The team’s regular shortstop is junior Stephanie Fedrigo, who has missed the first part of the season with an illness and is not expected to be back in the line-up until mid April. So, for now, Fryer, a versatile player who saw defensive time last year at center field, first base and third base, will handle the duties at short.
"She is the team leader and she can probably play any position," said Chuba, of Fryer. "She’s the team’s best hitter."
Fryer, who smacked a home run in a scrimmage game against McLean a few weeks ago, recently earned a scholarship to play the sport at the University of Tennessee next school year. Overall, both at the plate and in the field, she is a seasoned, fundamentally sound ball player.
"She’s very sound defensively and she’s very sound in the basic skills and mechanics [of the game]," said Chuba. "She is mentally tough, stays in the game and knows what to do with the ball. She helps position teammates [defensively]. She’s a very patient batter and can hit with power. She knows the strike zone and will work the plate.
"She’s extremely talented," said Chuba. "She was slated to be our first baseman, but now will play shortstop because of the illness to Stephanie."
Other key members of this year’s Dominion team include senior catcher Jamie Dixon and junior pitcher Jessie Denson, the team’s returning starter on the mound.
"She’s primarily a control type pitcher," said Chuba. "She has a variety of pitches—a fastball, rise ball, drop ball and changeup. And she spots the ball well."
Two other Dominion players to keep an eye on are junior Keri Muse and senior Ally Reed. Muse, a part-time starter last year at second base, is starting in center field this season.
"She’s really stepped up and taken over the leadership in the outfield," said Chuba.
Reed, meanwhile, has not played since her freshmen year as a result of injuries that forced her to miss both her sophomore and junior seasons. A three-sport athlete at Dominion (softball, hoops, volleyball), Reed will handle the leftfield position for the Titans.
Chuba, who teaches chemistry at Dominion, credits former coach Tully for helping him to adjust as the new Dominion coach.
"He’s a great person and left a very strong program talent-wise for me to step into," said Chuba. "He’s been very helpful with information about the players and rivals, and he knows the [Dulles] District history wise."
Dominion’s next two games after spring break are on the road. The Titans will play at Manassas Park next Wednesday and at district opponent Freedom two days later on Friday.