Greenbrier's Amanda Glover competes at Slugfest 2003.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
In the increasingly competitive world of fast-pitch softball, gaining even the smallest edge can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Several high-school softball teams, including three Columbia County schools, took part in Slugfest 2003 last weekend to gain that edge before the upcoming season.
"We kind of treat it like a tournament of pre-season scrimmages," said Garrett Black, the softball head coach of Greenbrier High School, which fielded two teams and sponsored the tournament.
Black said he got the idea of Slugfest, now in its seventh year, from his baseball counterparts at Greenbrier, and sees it as a means of testing out his teams before the season even begins.
"It's a great way for us, and other teams, to see where we're weak and where we're strong. That way, when we begin practicing for the new season, we already have an idea of what we need to work on," Black said.
Around 20 teams competed in this year's Slugfest. That's more than three times the number of teams that took part on the first tournament.
"It's a chance for us to play together, especially with our eighth-graders, and get a feel for each other," said Natalie Pippin, 17, a rising senior on Greenbrier's squad.
Greenbrier went 33-4 last season and won the Region 3-AAAA title.
Augusta Christian head coach Sandi Conn said her Lady Lions had a mediocre season last year and this tournament gives her a chance to build up her team's confidence.
Greenbrier's Kristen Glover, competes at Slugfest 2003 at Patriots Park.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Our biggest problem last year was that my players didn't believe in themselves," Conn said. "This is our first year in this tournament and we've had one close loss and one big victory. That's what I'm hoping we'll remember going into next season."
Indeed, team confidence already seemed to have improved among AC's seniors.
"We went into a lot of games last season expecting to lose," said rising senior Katie Holmes. "Now, I think we'll be going into to games expecting to win."
Many coaches, including Harlem's Melissa Chase, saw the tournament as a chance to test out her players in different positions and find out what suited them best.
"I'm moving people around, especially our new players, and see where they're strongest," said Chase, whose Lady Bulldogs won their region last year. "This tournament is perfect for experimenting a little because a loss won't count against us. It's like playing a bunch of scrimmages against some really good teams."
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