Football players aren’t the only athletes gearing up for the fall sports season. On Monday, Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High hosted softball tryouts.
BI Lady Tigers
About 27 girls attended tryouts, but coach Sharyl Eastlake said only 22 will make the final cut this season.
Last year, the team was 6-12 overall and 5-5 in Region 3-AAAAA. The coach said they are deep when it comes to pitchers, but replacing former catcher Brandi Huerd will have a domino effect.
"Jessica Puckett was our junior varsity catcher last year and she will be stepping into Brandy’s position but that will leave JV without a catcher," she said.
The coach said she has a few utility players like Danielle Durham and Barbara Rego, who will add depth to their position rotations.
"We are doing well with the pitchers," Eastlake said. "Karson Rogers returns and she has been pitching extraordinarily well. Kasey Smith has gotten taller, stronger and she has been pitching for us. Marena Coonrod has been pitching so we are feeling good about our pitchers."
The 2010-11 region realignment doesn’t affect the Lady Tigers, who continue to play against 3-AAAAA opponents like Jenkins, Camden County, Johnson, Groves and Windsor Forest. The girls will face a few new opponents this season, including a tentatively scheduled game against Liberty County on Sept. 11.
The Lady Tigers are starting things in the wild.
"We are starting at the Softball in the Swamp Tournament in Waycross," Eastlake said. "Then we added an additional tournament in Tattnall County called the Warriors’ Blast."
Looking ahead to the region games, the coach likes her chances against powerhouse Camden County.
"I think we have a chance this year," she said. "I think, this year, we can give Camden a run for their money. This crew right here was part of the JV team that beat Camden last year."
Eastlake said her junior varsity players will likely get some opportunities to play up a game or two.
The coach will have about four seniors on the varsity roster this season.
Lady PanthersCoach Jerome Standard said roughly 24 girls showed up for try outs. Last season, his Lady Panther team finished 9-11 overall and 3-4 in Region 3-AAA. But this season the girls will play in Region 2A-AAAA and the coach said the games will be tougher.
"There is a sub-region and the other side of the region has extremely strong teams like Greenbrier, Eastside Evans and both of the schools in Effingham County, so it’s a strong region," he said. "You could say we are now in a region considered a softball mecca. There are no easy games in our region. If you are not ready to play in every game you will get run ruled. You can’t let an inning pass you by."
The coach said his varsity squad is set. Charlee Coursey returns as the senior catcher, and last year’s main pitcher, Jordan Struble, returns as a senior. Incoming senior Kanae Gordon will play on the mound as well, and the coach said he has several younger players who can toss the ball across the plate.
Standard said his team will be competitive, but will have to make one significant change.
"We are going to try and make one big adjustment this year in our hitting," he said. "A couple of years ago the big thing in hitting was stay short. Well, they’ve moved the pitchers plate back three feet so we are going to go back to old style, load a little further and be a little stronger and hopefully hit the ball in the gaps a lot better."
The coach thinks he’ll have five seniors this season.