Head coach Steve Howard’s 14 and under girls Renegades team took second place in the GRPA district tournament last week. In addition to competing as a Hendrix Park All-Star team, the Renegades have had much success in tournament ball this summer throughout the southeast.
For the GRPA All-Star district tournament, which took place on July 6 and 7, the Renegades defeated Long County, but were edged out by Jeff Davis County for the top spot and the right to advance to state.
In addition to local play, the Renegades plowed through much of their competition which included regular play in the Chatham County rec league, where they went undefeated. They also placed within the top three in numerous tournaments in places such as third place in Brunswick, Milledgeville, Statesboro and Savannah.
Coach Howard, along with wife Christie and assistant coach Doug Foxworth have worked with these same players on the Renegades team since they were very young and followed along with them at each age level.
Starting with the 8 and under level, the trio has been training these same girls to prep them for BCMS and BCHS play. Steve Howard said he is excited to see three of the girls enter the BCHS Redskin roster this year: freshmen Bridget Bacon, Kayla Koskela, and Taylor Stanfield. Sophomore Samantha Howard, who played for the Skins last year, also plays for the Renegades. Fellow Renegade and Richmond Hill resident Hillary Roberts will enter her second year of the RHHS Wildcat softball program.
The remainder of the roster will be on the BCMS Redskin softball team, with plans of entering the high school program next year.
Howard said his motivation behind coaching these girls is to nurture the success of the Redskins. He and wife Christie have two daughters, Samantha and Tiffany, on the team which is another reason. As for Foxworth, Howard said he is a Pembroke native and also has that Redskin pride which drives him to help these kids.
All this has certainly not gone unnoticed by BCHS head softball coach Kim Covington.
"Steve’s program is very import in preparing these girls for the high school level," she said. "I do believe that it will give us that competitive edge and I’m very appreciative for the effort of Steve and his coaching staff. They put in a lot of time and effort and it shows."
Covington said she had Bacon, Koskela, Stanfield and Samantha Howard on her summer Redskin league and saw first hand the good that the Renegades program is capable of.
Howard said he takes great pride in witnessing both the improvement of these girls and also the increase in their confidence level. "We played some tough, tough teams this summer and the girls more than held their own," he said. "We feel they are now able to compete with the best of the best. It’s been a lot of work, but its well worth it when we see how much they really have improved. This summer, we’re hitting good, they’ve got a strong grasp on the fundamentals and the pitching is good."
Howard commented on the players that will be involved in the upcoming high school softball season.
On Richmond Hill’s Hillary Roberts, Howard said she has a strong pitching arm and is "coming around with her hitting."
On Bridget Bacon: "She’s got a lot of speed and good common sense about the game which will go a long way for her. I look for some good things to come from her."
On Samantha Howard, he said she is a very strong pitcher and will probably replace current senior pitcher Ashley Barfield after Barfield graduates.
On Kayla Koskela: "An awesome defensive player."
On Taylor Stanfield: "Just an all-around good that you can effectively anywhere. Strong infield, strong outfield and has is very ball smart. She knows what to do on the field which is a huge indicator for her future as she’s only 13-years-old."
Howard said he spends a good bit of time in the off-season gathering sponsors to support the team which pays off as it enables the girls to compete at no charge to them. This year, the following sponsors have helped the Renegades: Burnsed Body Shop, George’s Custom Paint and Body, Champion Tree Service, G&C Fertilizer, Pembroke Telephone, Georgia Pediatrics, Triad Supply, Two Lane Construction and Global Ink Commodities.
Next up for the Renegades is the WFC World Series which starts today in Savannah and will continue until the weekend.
Bryan County will be represented by three other travel teams at the WFC event. Also competing in the tournament will be Coach Keith Hall’s Richmond Hill Extreme Heat team, the Effingham County-based Lady Outlaws which includes RHHS’s Stephanie Ortiz, and Georgia Heat Elite which features RHHS’s Melanie Goolsby and Richmond Hill resident and Savannah Christian player Alison Harkins.