Di­a­mond queens

Lo­cal prep soft­ball teams off to strong start in 2007

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Ja­son Mur­dock

En­ter­ing Tues­day, the three lo­cal soft­ball teams from New­ton County — Al­covy, East­side and New­ton — had com­bined for an over­all 15-6 record. At this same point last year the teams were 10-11.

Ar­guably, the Lady Tigers (5-2) have had the big­gest turn­around. In fact, they have al­ready won more games than they did all of last year, in which they were a dis­ap­point­ing 2-18.

Last sea­son, it took the Lady Tigers un­til Septem­ber 12 to win their sec­ond game of the year. But Al­covy was a first-year team a year ago, and now head coach Casey Bates has his club head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Al­covy fresh­man pitcher Dal­las Hardin has taken over the num­ber one role on the mound and has so far sti­fled op­pos­ing hit­ters.

De­spite los­ing their star ath­lete, Catherine Lee (2006 All-State First Team; .353 av­er­age, seven home runs and 37 RBI), the Lady Ea­gles have started where they left off last year: Re­gion 8-AAAA, Sub­Re­gion B cham­pi­ons.

So far East­side is 1-0 in its re­gion. Al­though the 2006 team be­gan the year 7-0, the Lady Ea­gles have faced some tough op­po­nents which should make them bet­ter as the sea­son con­tin­ues.

En­ter­ing the week, East­side was ranked eighth over­all in Class AAAA. But it will be dif­fi­cult to top last year, a sea­son in which East­side head coach Heather Wood led her team to an over­all 33-7 record (11-1 re­gion). Still, the sec­ond-year head coach has the tal­ent to go all the way.

East­side se­nior pitcher Brandi Richards (2006 All­State Sec­ond Team) has im­pressed many with her arm. Against Evans and Lo­ganville — two games in which she recorded vic­to­ries — Rich-

ards com­bined to strike out 32 bat­ters.

Last year, Richards bat­ted .330 with 15 RBI. On the hill, Richards posted an over­all 13-5 record in­clud­ing 212 strike­outs in 109.1 in­ning pitched, with a mi­cro­scopic 0.64 earned run av­er­age.

Se­nior Brit­tany Harper (.302 av­er­age, 14 RBI) and ju­nior Bri­anna Cham­bers (.292 av­er­age, 19 stolen bases), who each earned 2006 All-State Hon­or­able Men­tion hon­ors, also re­turn for the Lady Ea­gles.

Cur­rently, New­ton head coach Ja­son LaChap­pelle has plenty of rea­sons to be ex­cited this sea­son, such as a 6-1 record (1-0 Re­gion 2AAAAA). The Lady Rams have outscored their op­po­nents 42-16.

Last year, the Lady Rams ex­pe­ri­enced an up-and-down sea­son, post­ing an over­all 13-19 record (4-3 Re­gion 2AAAAA). It took them un­til Septem­ber 14 to win their sixth game, un­like this year when it took all but seven games.

In fact, New­ton be­gan the sea­son with a five-game win­ning streak, plac­ing sec­ond over­all in the gold di­vi­sion dur­ing a tough tour­na­ment against Crisp County (5-2, 1-0 Re­gion 1-AAA), Perry (3-4, 1-0 Re­gion 4-AAA) and Ge­or­gia Mil­i­tary (6-0, 0-0 Re­gion 7-A).

The Lady Rams have been win­ning by way of their hit­ting and pitch­ing. For ex­am­ple, dur­ing a 9-7 re­gion vic­tory over M. L. King on Au­gust 21, Shay Marks and Morgan Smith each belted home runs while pitcher Holly Springer recorded 10 strike­outs.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Con­tact: Amanda Henderson makes con­tact last year in ac­tion last year for the Lady Ea­gles. En­ter­ing Tues­day, each of the three lo­cal prep soft­ball teams — Al­covy, East­side and New­ton — had com­bined for an over­all 15-6 record.

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