Softball teams take test run
Published 12:21 pm Thursday, July 26, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a sneak preview.
With a new high-school softball season a little more than a week away, the Callaway and LaGrange softball teams were on the field on Tuesday afternoon for a preseason scrimmage.
First up was a scrimmage between the junior-varsity teams, and the varsity teams then faced off.
LaGrange, which was the host team, won both of the games, although it was more about getting the players some experience than having the upper-hand on the scoreboard.
“We just wanted the girls to get some live pitching, running the bases and that kind of stuff,” said Robyn McCann, Callaway’s head coach. “We just wanted to have a little fun, and they enjoyed it.”
LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath said playing a local rival made the day particularly enjoyable.
“Our girls love to play them,” Heath said. “They grew up with the Callaway girls, playing travel-ball with them. They love just playing against people they’ve played with before.”
In the varsity game, Callaway had a three-run lead in the fourth inning, but LaGrange rallied for the win.
Heath was proud of the way her team bounced back after a difficult top of the fourth inning when some errors contributed to a four-run inning for Callaway.
“That’s something the coaching staff this year has worked really hard at reiterating to them is that we’re going to make mistakes, and they’ll happen,” Heath said. “Just come in and do what you do and don’t let that bother you. I think that has kind of clicked with our group. They made three or four errors, but they came in and they were able to execute and do what we asked them to offensively.”
Both teams used two pitchers in the varsity game.
For LaGrange, Macee Stone started, and Hannah Karcher finished things off on the mound and was the winning pitcher.
Camden Smith, who had a big freshman season and will be LaGrange’s number one option at pitcher, was unable to go because of a knee injury.
“Camden tweaked her knee, so she’s out for a week or two,” Heath said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to see what we’re like without her in the mix. We know what we’re going to get with (Smith). Hopefully we can use all three of them together and make a great impact.”
For Callaway, senior Oeisha Jenkins will be the staff ace, and she started Tuesday’s game before Jasmine Dukes pitched in relief.
In a normal game, Jenkins would likely have gone the whole way, but McCann wanted to get Dukes some time on the mound.
“We needed Jasmine to fight through it, because we’re going to need her later in the year,” McCann said. “So we left her in there.”
Callaway and LaGrange will both play at least one more scrimmage game before the season tips off for real.
Both teams will be at home on Aug. 2, with LaGrange playing Harris County, and Callaway facing Early County.
The regular season begins on Aug. 4, with LaGrange hosting Callaway and Troup.
Troup and LaGrange will play at 10 a.m., Callaway and Troup play at noon, and LaGrange and Callaway meet at 2 p.m. in the final game.
All three of those teams will begin official preseason practice on Monday, although they’ve each had busy and productive summers.
At Callaway, McCann has been extremely pleased with the participation in summer workouts.
“It can’t be mandatory, so I’m thankful and blessed that mine showed up,” McCann said. “We can’t say you’ve got to be there. Last year, we might have pushed having 14 there at the most. But we’ve been pushing having 21, 22, 23 there the whole summer.”
At LaGrange, Heath said there has been a balance between on-the-field workouts, and weight-lifting sessions led by assistant coach Craig Mobley.
“We had a great summer,” Heath said. “We’ve done a lot of weight-lifting, moreso than we’ve done in the past. I think our girls are much strong for it. Craig has taken it and run with it. And it’s been a great experience. We’ve lifted way more than we’ve ever done in the past.”
Troup is also putting the wraps on its summer schedule as it looks ahead to the season under the direction of new head coach Kayla Yeargin.
“I don’t want to wish the next couple of weeks away, but I’m super-excited to get the season started, and see what these girls put out there,” Yeargin said last week. “Really big things are about to happen. I’m excited to get going.”