With an 11-player roster Bryan County High School’s softball team isn’t going to overwhelm anyone when it comes to numbers.
Talent, however, is another matter.
Coming off a 31-6 season — a school record for wins — Coach Jason Roundtree returns seven starters including all-staters Bekah Johnson, Hayden Joyner and McKenzie Mobley, from a team that finished third in the state in the GHSA Class A state playoffs.
The Redskins will be at Swainsboro on Thursday before bringing their act to Richmond Hill where the two county rivals will play at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
It will be the season opener for Richmond Hill under new coach Chris Jenkins who took over the program after coaching softball at Jasper County for 18 years.
The matchup promises to be a repeat of last year’s 1-0 Bryan County win.
The Wildcats return eight starters off a team which reached the second round of the GHSA Class 6A state playoffs. The two teams will play again next Wednesday at Bryan County.
Bryan County, incidentally, will be playing its home games at Hendrix Park while a new softball and baseball complex is being built as a part of an overall improvement to the school’s athletic facilities. The football weight room is getting an addition and the track is to be resurfaced.
While having only 11 players is a concern, especially if injuries crop up, the Redskins had but 13 last year when they had one of the best seasons in school history.
With Johnson, Mobley and Joyner returning optimism about a repeat run at a state championship is at a high in the Redskins camp.
“We’ve got talent,” Roundtree acknowledged. “With those three in the lineup we can compete with anyone on our schedule. The key for us is avoiding injuries.”
Mackensie Bailey is the only senior and like most players on the team she is a multi-positional player and is expected to see action in the outfield, first base and behind the plate.
The two seniors on last year’s team were Alisha Fabin and Daxne Carrera who were fouryear starters and, Roundtree said, great leaders.
“You can have all the talent in the world but it’s leadership I’m worried about,” Roundtree said. ““We can replace them stats wise but replacing their leadership is going to be tough.”
Johnson, who was the Region 3A Offensive Player Of The Year last year as a centerfielder, will be replace Carrera behind the plate despite being left-handed. She hit .519 last season with 38 RBI.
“We’ll rotate three catchers,” Roundtree said. “Bekah will start most of the time but Mackensie and Skylar Lee will also catch.”
Joyner is a dazzling 33-6 for her career and Mobley, her backup, is 14-4 in two seasons. Mobley is solid at shortstop and last year hit seven home runs and drove in 47 runs while batting .486.
It could be difficult to match last year’s win total as Roundtree has beefed up the schedule. Bryan County will face 11 teams that were in the playoffs including Final Four teams Strong Rock Christian who was the state runner-up in Class A Private and Region 3A rival ECI.
Academy For Classical Education in Macon, Jefferson and Schley County, who the Redskins beat to reach the Final Four, were all third-round teams.
Scrimmage Friday night at Redskins Stadium
The Bryan County football team will also be in action Friday night as it takes on Wheeler County in a pre-season game at 7:30 at Redskins Stadium.
The Richmond Hill volleyball team will be at Effingham County on Tuesday to face the Rebels and Savannah Country Day.