Softball starts Monday for Liberty County High School, as the Lady Panthers will host Long County at 6 p.m.
The team has several returners from last year’s team, which went 5-17. Victoria Anthony, Meagan Folker and Alyssa Dennis are returning seniors. Hailey Spencer and Jeresha Roberson are his two returning juniors. Cassidy Collum, Riley Davis and Rachael Smith are returning sophomores.
Lady Panther softball coach Jerome Standard said the rest of his team is pretty young, but most of the girls played at the varsity level last year.
“We are on the second step of our rebuilding and things are looking pretty good,” he said.
Standard said there is a new incoming senior, Tanesa Rardein, and an incoming freshman and sophomore who will be beneficial to the team this season.
“It’s like the movie the ‘Field of Dreams,’” he said. “We built a new bullpen and we had two new pitchers move in and transfer to Liberty in Cathryn Carter, who is a sophomore, and Kaleigh Fisher, a freshman.”
The coach said he lacks numbers, but the girls he has make up for that shortfall.
“The one area I was a bit disappointed about was the number of kids that turned out for tryouts,” he said. “We had a huge amount of girls sign up, but the number of kids that turned up was low. Probably the lowest I’ve ever had. But I’ll say this — as far as varsity goes, the quality of the players … and their skills … that is up. We are going to be low in numbers, but very versatile. Almost every kid I have can play in multiple positions.”
Standard said the weather has shortened many of their practices and with the addition of new players, certain positions still are be evaluated. But overall, things are falling in place for their first game against Long County.
Standard said he expects a good game as Lady Blue Tide coach Brian Thomas has worked hard in developing a strong team. But Standard said his team is ready to compete.
“That guy has done a great job down there. I have nothing but compliments for him,” Standard said. “I just want to play a good game and play better than we did last year. I want to play better every game until we get to region play that’s our goal … We are good in a lot of positions already, but we can’t let that be good enough.”
Standard said most of his girls spent the entire summer playing travel ball, and the improvement in their hitting and pitching is evident this year.
He said the Lady Panthers also have added a former standout pitcher to their coaching squad — his daughter, Cassie Standard. Standard was a pitcher and second baseman for Savannah State University, where the senior is set to graduate with a degree in behavior analysis.
As a freshman in 2010, according to SSU’s athletic website, she finished the season with a 6-8 record and was second on the team in strikeouts with 39. At the plate, she was second on the team in slugging percentage (.421). In her sophomore season, she played in 23 games, batting a .340 with two doubles and three RBI. She also fielded at a .921 percentage with 32 putouts and led the team in strikeouts with 15. In her junior year, went 1-3 with a 4.96 ERA in 18.1 innings of relief.
In her final season, Standard led the Tigers in fielding percentage (1.000).
“She is a huge asset to this program,” coach Standard said.