Harlem softball coach Mike Leverett was disappointed when he heard the news Wednesday evening: Lakeside's ace was out with an injury.
"I thought we were going to be facing (Kaitlin) Hill," Leverett said. "We were expecting her."
Other coaches might have breathed a sigh of relief after learning one of Columbia County's top pitchers wouldn't throw against them.
In his first year as coach of the Lady Bulldogs, he's pushing past the easy games. He's looking for competition.
That's why Harlem's 9-0 victory over Lakeside in the Lady Panthers' home opener didn't give Leverett complete satisfaction.
"I'm glad we won, but I know Lakeside is capable of playing a much better game. They're a good team," he said. "We wanted to see the fast pitching."
Lakeside's Hill didn't pitch Wednesday because of a pulled muscle in her arm. The Lady Panthers instead went with a pair of freshman pitchers who didn't match up well with Harlem's experienced hitters.
The result was a Harlem win that improved the Lady Bulldogs to 5-2 overall. At this time last season, Harlem held a 2-5 record.
The past year has brought plenty of changes to the Lady Bulldogs program.
"Last year we thought we had a good team," Newsome said. "This year, coach Lev got here, and we've already learned so much more. We thought we had already learned everything, but he showed us we hadn't."
Leverett said the first two weeks of the season have gone better than he could have hoped.
Harlem holds a win over Class AA No. 4 North Oconee.
The Lady Bulldogs' only losses were a 3-1 loss to Class AAAA No. 2 Greenbrier and 1-0 loss to Class AA No. 3 Morgan County.
"I would have liked for it to go this way. I'm glad it is going this way," Leverett said. "But I didn't think the girls would respond as quickly as they have. I just hope we aren't peaking too early."
Harlem's next game kicks off the Region 3B-AAA schedule. The Lady Bulldogs will begin their defense of the subregion championship with their first subregion game of the year at 5 p.m. Thursday at Glenn Hills.
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