Greenbrier's quest for a 14th consecutive region softball title this season was hindered by an injury to a key player even before the season started.
The injuries have continued to mount throughout the season, with one key performer after another being hurt. Coach Garrett Black said the injury situation probably is the worst he's experienced in 14 seasons.
Three players have helped keep Greenbrier on track, however, as the team prepares for next week's Region 2-AAAA tournament. All three have surpassed Black's expectations for this season.
Junior Savanah Coon, a standout pitcher who was expected to share time in the circle with senior Katie Tracy, has played a lot at third base since Greenbrier's win at Evans on Aug. 31.
In that game, sophomore third baseman Lauren Masters injured her shoulder diving for a ball near home plate. Masters' injury required surgery, and she was lost for the season.
Senior Lindsey Sellers impressed coaches during summer camp and took over in left field after the injuries piled up. She hasn't had to move since.
And junior Rachel Nimmons has played outfield and infield and batted ninth and leadoff. She has done everything needed for a team struggling with injuries.
"Honestly, it seems like we've all gotten a lot closer, because we're all having to pull together," Sellers said. "We're having to work harder this year, because we have so many people out."
Coon has filled the Wolfpack's void at third, but Black said he eventually would need her to pitch during the playoffs, a move that would force a shuffle of several positions on the defense. Black said Greenbrier is a better defensive team with Coon at third.
Coon's biggest contribution has been with her bat, where she has delivered numerous times for the team, including a game-winning home run at Evans.
The Wolfpack lost a big bat when senior Ashlyn Masters injured her knee before the season. Coon has been asked to produce at the level of all-state shortstop Kaila Hunt.
"At practice, we always bat," Coon said. "Without those key hitters, we're having to hit more and just practice a lot more so when we get in the game, we're ready."
Many Greenbrier players are staying in the lineup despite injuries. Coon broke her pinkie finger diving back to second during a game in Columbus, Ga., this month.
Sellers has a damaged meniscus and wears a knee brace.
Last year, Greenbrier maintained a lineup throughout the season. This year, the lineup changes game to game.
The emphasis on offense has been to put the ball in play and move runners around, something that Sellers and Nimmons have learned to excel at.
The girls say opponents look at all the players who have been lost and probably see vulnerability. Greenbrier lost its season opener by a run to region rival Union Grove, the team's only region loss, and required extra innings to beat Newton on Sept. 22.
Greenbrier is expected to have another shot at Union Grove during the region tournament at Patriots Park.
"People probably underestimate us," Nimmons said. "But we still pull through."
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