Highlander Softball Optimistic in 2017
After a productive fall campaign, a bit of a break for the holidays, the Highlanders have set their sights on the 2017 season.
The fall included scrimmages against several NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2, and NAIA opponents including Georgia State University, University of North Georgia, Georgia College and State University, Georgia Southwestern, Augusta University, Middle Georgia State University, Reinhardt University, and Georgia Gwinnett College.
“As a team with 10 freshmen we had a lot to figure out this fall, and I think we did that. We took some blows, tasted some success, but what we are most excited about is the team improved each week," said the coaching staff.
Looking ahead the Highlanders know that the 2017 season will be a tough. The GCAA has come a long way in the past few years. Every team is competitive and well coached. The Highlanders realize that an off day will be costly.
The Highlanders return seven sophomores in 2017, all of which were starters as freshman in 2016. Catchers Baylee Brantley (Woodland High School - Henry) and Megan Shepherd (Thomas County Central High School) will return behind the plate for the Highlanders. Due to personnel reasons, Shepherd spent most of her freshman season at third base. However, the coaches are glad to have her back behind the plate. Returning infielders are shortstop Tori Aycock (Walnut Grove High School), second baseman Niki Moncrief (Crawford County High School) and first baseman Tiffany Godfrey (Creekview High School). The Highlanders return outfielders Destiny Glawson (Jasper County High School) and Paula Pickett (Pickens County High School).
“All of these ladies gained valuable experience as freshman; they learned not only how to play the college game, but also how to be good at it. Their experience, talent, and leadership will be a big part of our success this year. They certainly are proud to be Highlanders," said the coaching staff.
New faces in Barnesville -- The Highlanders add three in the circle: Dana Barefoot (Transfer / Point University), Maddie Green (Brookwood High School) and McKenzie Barnes (Jones County High School), who will also see time in the Highlander lineup on the infield.
“Actually, we added four in the circle for this year, " said the coaching staff. "Although she will always be part of the Highlander softball family, we lost freshman Sarah Garrett (Etowah High School) to a career ending concussion. However, Dana, Maddie, and McKenzie all had great outings this fall. They learned a lot about the college game, and we expect all three to have great seasons."
New faces in the infield are Angel Dement (Pickens County High School), Haleigh Adams (Jensen Beach High School , FL), and Lauren Deloach (Transfer / Young Harris College).
“These ladies can play. They have all of the tools (bat, arm, footwork, etc) but most of all they are winners, and they compete like champions. We are looking for them to have great freshman seasons," said the coaching staff.
The coaching staff is very excited about the new faces in the Gordon State outfield. “Not only are they terrific outfielders, they can play multiple positions, are athletic, and can all swing the bat," said the coaching staff. The outfielders are McKenzie Powell (Eastside High School), Morgan Sterrett (Calvary Day Christian High School), Shelby Sims (Mary Persons High School) and Alexis Dibuccio (Eastside HighSchool).
“We understand that the GCAA is tough to win," said the coaching staff. "This season may be the toughest year yet and doing that will require a lot to go our way. But we feel that we control that. At this point we have reason to be optimistic; however we still need to improve in several areas. We compete like champions at times, but consistency is where we need to improve the most. We are most excited about the fact that our players realize this."