Winning season so far for Lady Warriors

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – For two decades, LaGrange Academy’s softball program was one of the best in the state, and the team won the latest in a long line of state championships in 2011.

In the years since, while the Lady Warriors have continued to be successful, they’ve been unable to reach those previous heights.

LaGrange Academy coach Charles Parker, who has been at the helm for the program’s five combined state titles in slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball, is glad to see things starting to trend in the right direction.

Heading into today’s GISA Region 1-AA game at Piedmont Academy, LaGrange Academy is sporting an impressive 5-2 record.

“We won a state championship in 2011, and we lost eight seniors that year,” Parker said. “We haven’t been able to recoup it since then.”

Parker believes the future is bright, though, with a roster that includes just one senior as well as a middle-school team doing some good things.

“If we can keep this bunch together, and with the middle-school program (doing well), we’re getting there,” Parker said.

Most of the players who were a part of last season’s team have returned, and Parker said some newcomers have provided a spark.

“One of our new girls, an eighth-grader, Lanie Lackey, she’s leading the team in hitting,” Parker said. “And we picked up a ninth-grader, Sarah Blair Atkins. Everybody else is back from last year.”

Among the returnees is the lone senior, Reagan Terry, who is an infielder and pitcher.

The other pitcher is freshman Amber Corley, who was on the mound for many of the team’s games a year ago.

“This game starts in that (pitcher’s) circle,” Parker said. “That’s where it starts and finishes.”

Parker added that Corley and Terry have also been getting it done at the plate.

“Amber Corley has been hitting the ball real well, and Reagan Terry’s been hitting the ball,” Parker said. “Up until the last game (against Piedmont), we were hitting the ball.”

Eighth-graders are able to play varsity softball in the GISA, and Parker has been taking advantage of that.

In the game against Piedmont last week, eighth-graders Lanie Lackey and Mary James Stogner both started.

There are two other eighth-graders on the varsity team, Chloe Crockett and Molly Olinger.

The freshmen are Amber Corley and Sarah Blair Atkins, the sophomores are Megan Allen, Annika Bienemuller and Ashley Mains, the juniors are Felicity Liechty, Ruthie Kelsey and Sydney Anderson, and Reagan Terry is the only senior.

Parker said all of the players have been working hard for more than three months.

“We started in June, going two days a week, and then right after the fourth of July we started going three days,” Parker said. “And then we officially started practice the last week in July. We’ve been out here ever since.”

Because there are only three teams in the Lady Warriors’ region, they are guaranteed a spot in the state tournament.

LaGrange Academy will take on another GISA team in a best-of-three series in the first round of the state tournament.

It has been a few years since the Lady Warriors enjoyed any success at state, and Parker hopes that’s going to change.

“We’ve been going to the state tournament and losing two straight,” Parker said. “I’d like for us to at least advance one round.”