By R. Alan Richardson
With the final 8-AAA awards banquet under their belt, Coach Jason McBay’s softball program will now turn their sights toward a new season and a new region in 4-AAA. The six seniors on the Lady Bulldog squad had their final say when they traveled to Jefferson this past week where they were honored for the season’s successes at the 8-AAA Softball Awards night.
With the old season in their rearview mirror, it was on to what next season’s Lady Bulldogs’ success might be. Here are a few of the remarks from our conversation.
We’ve talked a lot about this past year’s team. How would you assess the team’s outlook for 2020? “I’m really excited to get busy with this group. They are hungry and have a good work ethic. There are some questions with the new region and filling some of our voids. I’m excited to see the eighth graders that are coming up mixing with the talent we have coming back.”
What will be your focus during the offseason? Are there specific areas the girls need to improve in? “Getting in the weight room and getting stronger is priority number one. Also, we will be working very hard to become more technically sound defensively. I’m trusting that our pitchers, Sarah Ellen Mercer, Emma Garner, and Kendall Smith are all working hard with their pitching coaches to be prepared for the season.”
What do you feel will be their strengths and why? “The group we have coming back has a chance to be very strong offensively. The biggest strength will be their work ethic and attitude. Almost everyone we have coming back will truly push the others around them to be better.”
What does the pitching rotation look like? “The three I mentioned previously will contribute in the circle. They have big cleats to fill in Bailey Nix, but I know that all three know how to compete and will only get better.”
Leadership is so vital. Who do you see filling in that role with the loss of some fantastic leaders and players? “Avery Kinnett will embrace that role. Also, we’ll be looking for leadership out of Peyten and Parker Spain. Sarah Ellen Mercer will (and already does) do a good job leading.”
Who is most likely to fill the void of the senior losses? “I’m looking for big things out of eighth graders Leah Spain, Anna Kate Hill, and Ryan Henderson. In addition, Emma Garrison is someone that flew
under the radar last year. You’ll be writing her name a lot. She could end up in right field, some at first base, or catching. Brianna Langford had a great freshman year. She may contribute some at third base. Autumn Calloway will also contribute in the outfield. Defensively, I’m not sure how it will all shake out, but offensively we should be pretty tough top to bottom.”
What will be missed most from this group of seniors? “I’ll miss all of them. They were a very special group. They love fearlessly and laugh contagiously. I know all six of them will be very successful as they move forward.”
McBay made these final comments. “We will use slow pitch this spring to help answer some of our defensive questions. Overall, we need to find a starting catcher, third baseman, and our outfield. Ultimately, our program stands for so much more than just wins and losses. The group that graduates this year and the new team we have coming back understand this. It’s exciting to see what they can do on the field, but even more cool to see how they use all that God has given them in every area of their lives.”