High hopes for LaGrange
Published 12:28 am Saturday, August 3, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’ll be a familiar group of players taking the field on Saturday for the LaGrange Lady Grangers.
While LaGrange lost a few seniors from last season’s team, most of the key players have returned, including five talented juniors that have started alongside each other for two years.
LaGrange opens its season today in the HOPE For A Day Classic against Callaway and Troup.
Leading the way for LaGrange are juniors Camden Smith, Abby Vanhoose, Malone Aldridge, Madison Dennis and Jacee Marable, who have been starting since they were freshmen.
Kirsten Williams is another one of the juniors who has been playing for two seasons.
There are no seniors on the team, so head coach Gabby Heath has asked the juniors to take on a larger leadership role.
“They’ve had to embrace leadership roles, because we don’t have seniors this year,” Heath said. “So right now, they’re the oldest. They’re having to do it one year earlier than most people do. It’s great to watch a lot of them step up and lead, either by action or being vocal. It’s nice to watch them grow and mature as leaders. It’s on the softball field, and in the school building.”
One of those juniors is Smith, who has enjoyed two outstanding seasons as LaGrange’s number one pitcher.
Macee Stone, who had a successful freshman season, gives LaGrange another effective pitcher.
“She did really well at the plate, and on the mound,” Heath said of Stone. “Macee won against Central-Carroll. That was our first win against Central since we’ve been in this region.”
Heath added that Smith and Stone “balance each other because they’re two totally different pitchers. When you see one, and then you see the other, it’s totally different.”
LaGrange doesn’t have as much depth as it did a year ago, and because of that Heath will be asking some of the players to take on expanded roles.
“All of our girls are prepared to go anywhere at any time because of the makeup of our team this year,” Heath said. “We don’t have as much depth, so we’re having to make everybody kind of like utility players so we can maneuver them wherever we need them, at any time. So it’s been interesting watching people play new positions and get used to it.”
Heath has enjoyed being around this team because of the personalities of the players. They take the sport seriously, but they also keep things light.
“They have so many different personalities,” Heath said. “They love to have fun, but also like to work. It’s something the coaching staff has to work around, too. It’s been good.”
LaGrange will kick things off with games against Callaway and Troup today, and Heath feels that’s good for the team to face two rivals.
“It helps you prepare a little bit more than you might typically,” she said. “ And it’s fun to get the community involved. It’s kind of like opening up softball season for the town, for the community. It’s really fun, and the girls always love it.”