Whatever question marks they’ve had over the past four seasons, who the pitcher would be wasn’t one of them.
Since the start of the 2010 season, Emily Anderson has been the pitcher for the LaGrange Lady Grangers, and she was one of the state’s best at that position.
She earned multiple all-state nods, and she helped the team enjoy a lot of success over the past four seasons.
When the LaGrange High softball team hits the field for its season opener, though, it will do so with somebody other than Anderson on the mound for the first time since 2009.
Anderson has graduated, and she is now a member of the Georgia Tech softball team.
LaGrange also has to replace another four-year starter in Karsin Spinks, who was the team’s top hitter the past few seasons.
Life goes on, though, and as the Lady Grangers get ready for a new season, they’re ready to carry on without Anderson and Spinks.
“It’s a different team, in a good way,” LaGrange coach Jan Jones said. “They’re a fun group, and they work hard. We’re excited.”
Life will be considerably different, though, especially without Anderson since the pitcher position is such a critical one in fast pitch softball.
As a senior, Anderson finished her high-school career by going 17-6 with a 1.16 earned run average.
“She was one of the best pitchers in the state,” Jones said.
Jones said a pair of pitchers, McClain Skinner and Cassidy Creed, will look to keep things going on the mound.
“They’re both young,” Jones said. “But they pitched this summer at camp. They pitched a lot.”
Jones said “they need to work on hitting their spots” and she’s hoping a solid defense will help the pitchers out.
“You have to make the plays you’re supposed to make,” Jones said. “And the pitchers have to limit walks. Just trust your defense is what we’ve got to do.”
While the pitcher will be new, the Lady Grangers do have a number of players returning from last season’s team that went 20-10.
That includes three seniors, including catcher Makenzie Traylor, who has been playing since she was a freshman.
Traylor had to come in and play catcher in a state-playoff series during her freshman season, and she has been a fixture in the lineup since.
“When she was a freshman, she had to step up,” Jones said. “The first Oconee game, we went there the year they won state. It was like throwing her to the wolves, but she had to step up and do it because at the time Karsin couldn’t.”
Traylor is coming off a stellar junior season, and Jones said she’ll be relied on even more heavily this year.
“Last year, she was kind of a mid-lineup player,” Jones said. “This year, she’s possibly leadoff because she’s so good at putting the ball in play, and she’s fast. She’ll be our go-to this year.”
The other two seniors are Bailey Parker and Taylor Thrailkill.
Parker was a starter at year ago, while Thrailkill was the backup first baseman.
“Last year, she kind of filled in. Unfortunately for her, she had to wait behind Karsin Spinks,” Jones said of Thrailkill. “She’s a good kid, and I hope she does well. She’s waited her turn.”
LaGrange has a number of underclassmen who played a lot last season as well and contributed to a 20-win team.
Unfortunately for LaGrange, one of those players will miss the season.
Te’a Winston, one of the top players a year ago as a freshman, suffered an ACL injury during the summer, and she is out for the fall.
“They said no sports for six months,” Jones said. “In six months she’ll be able to start working back in. I hope she has a good junior and senior year.”
LaGrange will host Newnan on Wednesday in a preseason game, and it will play its season opener on Friday in the Callaway Classic at Shuford Fields.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 (ext. 232) or on Twitter @lagrangesports