Softball starts the 2012-13 high school athletic season Friday with Harlem playing host and Grovetown participating in the Chick-fil-A Classic tournament at Patriots Park.
Both teams have been affected by region and classification changes. Harlem went from AAA to AA while Grovetown makes the jump from AAA to join Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside in AAAAA.
Region 2-AAAAA Subregion A
While nothing is ever decided on paper, it certainly appears to be a two-horse subregion race between the Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack and the Evans Lady Knights.
The Lady Wolfpack finished 29-8, advancing to the second round of the 2011 AAAA state tournament, but saw its 15-year run as region champions snapped.
“Well, there’s no more pressure about a streak,” said coach Garrett Black. “We can just focus on getting better every day and try to get ourselves in a position to win our subregion because that’s our No. 1 goal right now.”
The Lady Knights ended the 2011 season with a 24-11 mark, finishing second in the region, just ahead of Greenbrier and advancing to the second round of the state tournament. The team lost two starting pitchers, but return nine players, including potential pitchers Lexi Dodgen, Natalie Johnson and Carrington Gray.
“Any time you lose that number of pitchers in all, you have to work your way around it or find someone who can pitch,” said head coach Colette Cassedy, the 2011 Region 2-AAAA Coach of the Year. “My pitchers who are pitching this year, this is kind of their secondary position in a way.”
Cassedy said the three mainly played other positions in 2011.
Cassedy’s Lady Knights will compete in a tournament at South Gwinnett Friday and Saturday. The Lady Wolfpack start Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. at home against Jefferson County.
In AAA last year, Grovetown was 0-21 while Lakeside ended the year with a 0-15 record. The two square off Sept. 13 at Lakeside.
Region 3-AA Subregion B
Head coach Mike Leverett’s Lady Bulldogs finished 2011 with a 25-9 record. The team lost two games in the opening round of the AAA state tournament by a total of two runs.
The Lady Bulldogs should be a dangerous bunch again. The team will return no fewer than seven players from 2011 who batted over .300 and just has to fill pitcher and designated hitter slots.
“We didn’t lose anybody out of the infield and we didn’t lose anybody out of the outfield,” said Leverett. “We’ve got the whole defense coming back.”
Leverett’s team got high praise from Greenbrier’s head coach.
“I think Harlem has a chance to win a state title,” Black said.