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LaGrange softball players staying busy

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

With a new softball season on the horizon, LaGrange High’s players are staying busy.

Many of LaGrange’s players, including a group of seniors who have been starting since they were freshmen, have been playing travel softball in recent weeks with facilities re-opening.

This past weekend, LaGrange High was well-represented during a tournament in Rome.

Four of the seniors, Camden Smith, Madison Dennis, Jacee Marable and Malone Aldridge, are members of the Coweta Select team that finished second in the 18-and-under division.

Another one of the seniors, Abby Vanhoose, plays for the Easton Elite Gold, and juniors Holly Lynn and Kaylee Bryant are teammates on the Magic team.

LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath and other members of the coaching staff made the trip to Rome to watch the players get their swings in.

“We went up there, our whole coaching staff to watch them,” Heath said. “It was really fun watching them play. I like being on that side of the fence sometimes.”

LaGrange’s players were able to start summer conditioning last week, but there are a number of restrictions in place because of the coronavirus.

Most notably, the players aren’t permitted to use balls, gloves, or bats, which limits what can be accomplished.

There are no restrictions on travel softball, though, so Heath is happy to see her players getting plenty of game experience under their belts in preparation for a high-school season that begins in August.

“Them actually playing games on the weekend, and practicing with their travel-ball teams, is crucial for us,” Heath said. “It’s great that they’re getting reps that they need that we can’t give to them.”

While the high-school team isn’t able to hold traditional practices at the moment, Heath is nonetheless glad to have the players back on campus following an absence of nearly three months.

“We had to work in some time to clean, and to check in, and everything went really smoothly,” Heath said. “Social-distancing was the thing for us, just keeping everybody safe. It’s the new norm for everyone. It’s a little bit longer process, but the girls don’t seem to be bothered by it. They understand. I just enjoyed being back with everybody. Our whole coaching staff is happy to be back.”

There are two groups of players working out each day, and Heath is pleased with the participation so far.

“We have 12 in one group, and we have 18 in another,” Heath said. “That’s 30 kids. We’re excited about the numbers. It’s definitely up from last year.”

LaGrange is looking to build on an ultra-successful 2019 season that ended with the team playing in the state finals in Columbus for the first time in more than 10 years.

LaGrange (24-13) finished second in Region 5-AAAA before beating Denmark and Shaw in the state playoffs to advance to the eight-team state finals.

All of the players from last season’s team will return, including six seniors.