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Lady Tigers getting ready

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

With a new season set to begin in less than three weeks, the work continues for the Troup High softball team.

The players began voluntary summer workouts on June 8, and they’ll make the transition to official preseason practice on Aug. 3, with the regular season set to begin on Aug. 7.

Troup is under the direction of first-year head coach Ryan Simpson, and she’s encouraged with the progress some of the players have made from a physical standpoint.

The players close each workout session by running, and on Monday afternoon, Simpson was pleased to see that no one was walking across the finish line.

“Not a single girl walked this. They’re all at least jogging it,” Simpson said. “We were not like that at the start. This is so much better than the very first time we did it. That was a struggle. They walked it in the very beginning.”

Simpson, who excelled as a pitcher at Point University from 2016 to 2019, accepted the position as Troup’s softball coach earlier this year.

Unfortunately for Simpson, she wasn’t able to meet with the players after taking the job because of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

That changed in June when the Georgia High School Association gave teams the go-ahead to begin summer workouts.

For Simpson, the workouts have given her the chance to not only see what the players can do as softball players, but to get to know them as people.

“The girls are opening up,” Simpson said. “We’re having conversations, and that was very hard at the very beginning, which is understandable. I’m a new coach coming in.”

One thing Simpson has made sure to do when she talks to the players is to not give them any indication the season might not be played.

States across the country have either canceled or postponed the fall sports seasons, and with that in mind Simpson, has strived to make sure her players prepare as if they’re definitely going to play.

“We haven’t even mentioned to them, we might play, we might not play,” Simpson said. “It’s hey, our first game is Aug. 7.”

For Simpson, playing softball in August is a change.

During her high-school days at Valley High, and as a standout pitcher for Point University, Simpson played softball during the spring when temperatures are cooler.

Now, Simpson is adjusting to having softball played at a time when summer is still going strong and it’s not uncommon to play games when temperatures are in the 90s.

“It’s new for me,” Simpson said. “In Alabama, I’ve always played in the spring. This is new. We’re used to practicing and playing in the sweat shirts and things like that. Now we come out here, and you’re sweating, and it’s 90 degrees outside.”