New-look LHS softball team getting ready
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
When the LaGrange High softball team was going through summer workouts a year ago, there weren’t many decisions to be made concerning the lineup.
It was a veteran team that included six seniors, most of whom had been starting since the first game of their freshman seasons.
It’s a different story this year.
The seniors on the 2020 team have graduated, leaving a bunch of holes to fill, making this summer a particularly important time as head coach Gabby Heath and the other coaches figure out what the opening-day lineup will look like in August.
“It’s really exciting as a staff,” said Heath, whose team won a region championship and reached the state semifinals last year. “The dynamic of our team is so different from the group we just had. It’s exciting to go through all the new ways we’re going to attack everything, figuring out who’s going to play where.”
The team won’t be devoid of experience.
Among the returnees is senior catcher Holly Lynn, who was one of the team’s top players last season.
Also coming back are starting outfielders Mariana Ceja and Kaylee Bryant, as well as key role play Mary James Stogner.
“They’re all leaders,” Heath said of the returning players.
There’s no doubt the team will be a drastically different one, though, with the departure of seniors Camden Smith, Madison Dennis, Malone Aldridge, Jacee Marable, Abby Vanhoose and Kirsten Williams.
Among those players, Smith (West Georgia), Dennis (Highlands Community College), Aldridge (Highlands) and Vanhoose (LaGrange College) will play college softball.
“Everything is so different, but it’s exciting, it’s refreshing,” Heath said. “It breeds competitions with our returners, too.”
Heath does appreciate that the recent graduates are staying involved with the program.
During Wednesday’s workout, Smith and Dennis were on hand to lend a hand, and Heath was happy to have them there.
“it’s been really great having Camden and Madison,” Heath said. “The girls have seen the success they had. Even during the middle of practice, they’ll say you can do this.
“They’re teaching what we taught them, so it’s been really good and exciting. It says a lot that the summer before college they’re doing that.”
The team is holding workouts four days a week, and the day begins at 8 a.m. with a breakfast.
Following a workout in the weight room, the coaches and players make their way to the softball field to finish up.
“We’ve had over 20 girls (each day), with three or four at camps,” Heath said.
The players will take a break from the routing when they attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Columbus.
Official preseason practice begins on Aug. 1, and the first game can be played on Aug. 6.