LaGrange softball team preparing for season
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Coming off its finest season in more than a decade, the LaGrange High softball team is gearing up for what it hopes will be another memorable fall.
A year ago, LaGrange went 24-13 and reached the state finals in Columbus for the first time since 2004.
All of the starters from last year’s team return, including six seniors who will all play key roles on this year’s squad.
In preparation for a season that begins in two weeks, LaGrange’s players and coaches have been getting after it during daily workout sessions at Granger Park.
Like every other team, the start of LaGrange’s summer program was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Teams were given the go-ahead by the Georgia High School Association to begin summer conditioning on June 8, and a few weeks ago they were allowed to begin using bats, gloves and softballs, which opened things up a lot more.
At the start of summer workouts equipment wasn’t allowed, and coach Jim Reed knows how hungry everyone was to get back to business as usual.
“They were excited to get back out there,” Reed said. “That’s the first thing they talked about. They kept looking back down to the field while we were running. They wanted to hit, they wanted to dive.”
Now, there are no limitations to what the players can do, and it has been full-speed ahead during the daily practices from 8:30 a.m. until noon.
“We’re so fast-paced and up-tempo that we don’t have to do conditioning,” Reed said. “That is conditioning.”
LaGrange is scheduled to open its season on Aug. 7 in the Callaway Classic at Shuford Fields.
Expectations will be high after the success the team enjoyed last season.
Leading the way are the six seniors, Camden Smith, Madison Dennis, Abby Vanhoose, Kirsten Williams, Jacee Marable and Malone Aldridge.
There are a handful of underclassmen who contributed last season as well, including Macee Stone, Holly Lynn and Mariana Ceja.
Many of the players have not only participated in summer workouts, but were part of a virtual program during the coronavirus-mandated shutdown.
“These girls have put in some serious work,” said LaGrange assistant coach Craig Mobley. “We started back in April. When we got shut down, we put together this online workout. At the time, we had about 14 to 15 of them showing up three days a week through Zoom. We have missed some of our beats, but as soon as we got cleared, we did stations, and they were in the weight room working on speed and agility, and then when we got cleared to do more, we expanded.”