Lady Tiger softball coach Sharyl Eastlake is excited about the upcoming season, after discovering she was four to five girls deep at the pitcher’s position, four girls deep as catchers and several returning players.
"We had 57 for conditioning over the summer," Eastlake said. "Yesterday (Monday) for tryouts we had 43 girls and of those 43 I kept 30. In only wanted to keep 25 but I kept 30 for one reason. We have a lot of younger girls, which means a successful future."
Eastlake added for the first time in roughly four years she has three seniors back on the squad and several girls who can play three to four positions, allowing her to keep fresh legs in games and to keep the pitching and batting rotation flowing throughout the season.
Among the returning veterans is Patrice Antalan, who’s moving from shortstop to third base. Brandi Huerd is set to return as the starting catcher, but will likely rotate on the mound as needed. Jasmine Cuevas returns to start at second.
In addition, Eastlake said four eighth-graders and a lot of freshmen will round out the varsity and junior varsity squads.
Eastlake’s daughter Misty has assisted the squad by offering lessons to the girls on pitching, catching and hitting.
"Barbara Rego and Karson Rogers will be our starting varsity pitchers," Eastlake said. "They’ve come a long way and they are both receiving pitching lessons. Catherine Love is coming back to pitch on the junior varsity squad. She can also play at second, shortstop and the outfield. We have a new eighth-grader in Kasey Smith and she is very good. She is also taking pitching lessons."
Eastlake said she noticed a difference in the players’ enthusiasm and attitude.
"We have some girls out here that want to play this year," she said. "They actually beat me to the field and are raring to go. They are taking the initiative to come out on their own to improve and almost everyone out here played recreation ball this year so I’m really encouraged because I had advised them all to do that."
The Lady Tigers have roughly a week to get their enthusiasm focused on strategy as the squad opens the season Aug. 14 at the Trembling Earth Softball complex in Waycross for a weekend tournament.
"We are going to see some really competitive teams, high caliber teams," the coach said. "We will see Camden and they are in our region, but we are also going to see some other teams like Clinch County, Perry, Cook County and teams I’ve never seen play before."
Eastlake said they chose the Waycross tournament instead of the Paulsen tournament to give her squad an opportunity to play highly competitive teams from outside the region.
"I see some great things coming," she said.
See Sunday’s Courier for the Lady Tigers complete schedule and roster.