Greenbrier High School's softball players are on summer break, but they're not taking a break from softball.
Most of the Lady Wolfpack's 31 members also participate on travel teams, so they all should be well-oiled machines when Greenbrier opens the 2002 campaign on August 14.
Still, Lady Pack coach Garrett Black administered an off-season tune-up last week with a camp, practices and the Greenbrier High School Softball Slugfest at Patriots Park.
"I'm very pleased, especially with the varsity," Black said. "The biggest thing for us is everyone has come from different travel teams, so it's time for us - Greenbrier - to get on the same page and start forming some unity."
The Softball Slugfest was held Thursday through Saturday, and sported 15 squads, including Greenbrier's varsity and junior varsity.
The Lady Wolfpack began the week with a three-night, sleep-over camp at the Brierpatch, which was highlighted by what Coach Black termed, "bonding drills."
"I guess that's what you'd call them," Greenbrier third baseman Nikki Smith said with a laugh. "We had a candle-light ceremony, where we sit around and tell what we're thankful for, what we would do to make the team better - stuff like that."
Greenbrier's players also visited the neonatal unit at the MCG Children's Medical Center. "That made us thankful to be able to play softball, and to not take for granted the ability God has given us," outfielder Katie Sutherland said.
Sutherland, Smith and first baseman Meagan Borum will be the only seniors on the Greenbrier squad during the upcoming season, but they each believe the winning tradition already is instilled in the team's incoming freshman class.
"We all eat, drink and sleep softball," Sutherland said. Of the freshmen joining the six-time defending region champion Lady Wolfpack, Borum said, "They understand (the strong softball tradition), and they're really getting into it. They've come in and done really well."
Some unexpected heroes emerged Friday evening at the Slugfest. After a thunderstorm drenched Patriots Park, Greenbrier parents became groundskeepers and helped clean up the diamonds.
The downpour left three fields underwater, but an hour later, teams were playing ball, and only three games were canceled.
Things went just as smoothly for the Lady Pack.
"We're doing really well, actually," Smith said before Slugfest action began Saturday. "We've won all of our games so far, and we beat Shaw and Morgan County, which is really a plus for us. It builds our confidence for the state playoffs, where we may have to see them again."
Greenbrier has won a region title every season since the school opened in 1996; although the team lost four senior starters from the 2001 team, Black says his freshman group is solid, so he isn't looking to rebuild this fall.
Additionally, sophomore pitchers Kristan Glover and Jenni Massingale looked sharp at the Slugfest.
"We're ironing the kinks out. After this week, I know where I'm going with this team, lineup-wise," Black said.
In order to extend its string of titles, Greenbrier will have to win a region tournament this season. Also, with Jones County and Baldwin new to the region mix, there will be more competition.
But with the high school season still two months away, Nikki Smith can already picture a perfect finish to her prep career.
"It's time for a state championship," she says. "We want a ring."
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