New and familiar faces to lead 2020 Lady Diamond Dogs

Staff Written Sports

By R. Alan Richardson

Sports Editor

The Morgan County softball squad gave their fans a little
preview of the 2020 version of the Lady Diamond Dogs this past Monday night.  The intersquad double-header pitted the black and red teams against one another in two five inning contests.  The outcome was…The Lady Dogs were victorious.

Coming away from the scrimmage, Coach Jason
McBay was pleased with the effort.  “I like our team and they play hard.  With this group they are already rising to the occasion.  We aren’t flashy, just gritty and hard-working. They don’t complain. They just challenge each other to be better each day.  They love the game and each other.”

This year’s team will feature a mix of older and younger players.  Fans familiar with MOCO softball will recognize the lone senior on the roster, Sarah Ellen Mercer, and the five juniors:
Avery Kinnett, Emma Garrison, Emma Garner, Autumn Callaway, and Parker Spain.  This solid core of veteran players returns with a ton of experience already under their belt and will lead the Dogs into battle.

Two of the veterans weighed in on the scrimmage after the first game.  All-State shortstop candidate Avery Kinnett told us, “I think we did good against each other because Emma (Garner) is one of our top pitchers and the game was very competitive for our first game at 3-2.  Leah (Spain) did great on the mound too (Freshman Spain started game one for the home red team).  I think our outlook is to play small ball like getting our bunts down where we get most of our runs.  We have a good group of freshmen.  They will be helping us a lot.”

Junior catcher/second baseman Parker Spain was asked how she was adjusting from being the 2019 starting second baseman to this year’s catcher.  She said, “I’m kind of used to it.  I’ve caught in the past.  It looks like it might be my main position this year, but I’ll be playing second some too.”  When asked about the upcoming schedule she commented, “I don’t know much about our new region, so I haven’t been
focused on that too much.  I’m sure it will be strong competition but shouldn’t be that bad.  There’s a lot of travel and long trips, but it should be a fun season.”

With only one senior and no sophomores showing on the JV and varsity rosters, the talented group of upcoming freshmen will be thrown into the fire early.  Some will make an immediate impact in starting or substitute roles with the varsity when the first pitch is tossed out
August 7.  That group consists of Leah Spain, Anna Kate Hill, Ryan Henderson, Tallie Ray, Emmy Moss, Kendall Smith, Amelia Anderson, Kymora Smith, Casey Godwin, Samayia Ward, and transfer Clara Grace Hager.

Freshman speedster Anna Kate Hill was ready for the challenge saying, “The pitching is a little faster from the older players and the speed of the game is quicker, but I’m used to the pitching from travel ball.  I’m working on swinging the bat more.  Sometimes my slap hitting can struggle, but my bunting is usually on-point.  I’ve been working on it with my hitting instructor and my Dad (of course).”

McBay was optimistic about the upcoming season while realizing there were things to work on.  He said, “We have to solidify some things behind the plate and on the mound.  We also need more repetition to work on bunts and baserunning as well.  But this team’s “IT” factor in my mind is their willingness to learn and their coachability.”

With everything going on around sports these days, softball is no different.
McBay talked about the challenges he and the team have faced with these words, “There’s a lot of excitement right now.  As coaches, we just love the sights, sounds, and smiles.  As players, I think it has been a good outlet for many of them.  I think we all realize that we should play and live like there is no tomorrow.  The girls seem to enjoy making every day count!  I feel like we are behind, but really everyone is.  We have a really young team so we had a jam-packed June planned (that didn’t happen) to help bridge some gaps, but this team knows WHY they play so the other particulars will take care of themselves.”

The season’s action gets started when MCHS takes on East Jackson at 4:30 p.m. and Newton at 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 7 in the season’s home opener. 

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