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Fielding dreams
Bradwell's Lady Tigers young, but prepared
JD LadyTigers
Bradwell softball coach Jeff Eastlake said this year’s team has a lot of freshmen players, but credits the Liberty County Recreation Department with giving them experience by offering fast-pitch softball during the summer. - photo by Photo by John Deike
Lady Tigers softball is gearing up for the new season by starting tryouts at James Brown Park. Coach Jeff Eastlake expects four varsity players to return and hopes a few junior varsity players will be able to step it up to the next level. But, he knows that he faces a challenge, as a majority of the players will be freshman.
“We are going to have a very young team,” Eastlake said.
Anticipating a young team, Eastlake is taking a developmental approach to this year’s season.
“What we have to do this year is play what we call small ball, and that's like bunting, running, good defense; and try and let the other team make mistakes before we do,” he said.
The Lady Tigers lost five players from last season with their biggest deficit being their loss on the pitcher’s mound.
“We lost good players —   not in defense but in hitters . And we lost Jenny Tart as our pitcher and no one can really replace her."
But Eastlake said he is not discouraged because many of the players joining this year’s Lady Tiger roster play fast pitch in the recreational leagues, giving them some practice and exposure to the game.
“We can credit that to the LCRD because they have fast-pitch softball now, so our players continue to play and develop during our off season,” he said.
One of the returning Lady Tigers is Jena Alford who, during last year’s season, played third base, shortstop and pitcher. She is also known to be a threat at bat.
“Jena Alford will be our starting pitcher and I have all the confidence in the world in her abilities,” Eastlake said.
Alford has played softball since she was 5. She was a junior last year and still named one of the team captains. She mostly bats right-handed but can occasionally swing as a southpaw.
Last season she served up some fastballs, change-ups and drop balls in her pitching repertoire.
The Lady Tigers hope to make it to the region playoffs this year, but Eastlake knows it has to be done one game at a time.
“We want to look toward the future, but we need to develop the younger players, put the emphasis on hitting and hopefully the games will go our way,” he said.
The Lady Tigers take to the mound for their first game Aug. 18 at the Paulson Tournament in Savannah.
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