The standards have been set; the bar has been raised.
The expectations of the Lady Redskin softball program have risen. New Lady Skins head coach Al Butler has taken over the reigns of a solid softball program.
He replaces four-year coach Kim Covington, who stepped down due to family reasons. Butler’s young squad knows they have some big shoes to fill but he said they are up for the challenge.
"These girls don’t know how to lose, not meaning they won’t lose, but they just simply won’t give up and there is no quitting within them," Butler said.
Knowing that last year’s squad made it all the way to the state’s Elite Eight competition, Butler said the same expectations are in the minds of this year’s diamond girls.
"These girls already have it in their mind that they are going to state because they assume that is what you are supposed to do if you are a Lady Skin," Butler said with a grin. "Heck, if I told them today that we had a motel picked out to stay in at state, they would probably be calling to make reservations – and they haven’t even played a game yet.
"These girls have all the softball knowledge and skills they need to succeed," Butler continued, "and I told them the only thing that would hold them back would be their own determination."
The Lady Skins’ official practice started on Aug. 1, and they will play their first regular season game on Aug. 15 in a region contest at home against Jenkins County.
Unlike other sports, there is not much practice time in softball before the season actually starts, so this determined squad took advantage of summer league games and have been playing together all summer.
"We would really be pressed if we had not been involved in summer ball," Butler said. "There is just no room for pre-season play, but luckily our girls have been playing all summer which has allowed them to hit the ground running for the regular season."
Rebecca Horton is the lone senior on this year’s young team and she has stepped up to be one of the team leaders, according to Butler.
This year’s squad is composed heavily of freshmen and sophomores. Butler has high expectations for the incoming freshmen that were part of last year’s region champion Bryan County Middle School softball team.
"All the girls have been working really hard and have pushed themselves to the limit in almost everything we have asked them to do," Butler said. "I am very proud of their hard work and determination and couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to work with. They are fired up and ready to go."
The team scrimmaged against Richmond Hill Aug. 12 to open the season. Look for results of that game in the next issue.