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Banner year for Lady Bulldogs softball team
Rockdale makes first trip to sectionals in 11 years

CONYERS - The Rockdale softball team turned in a solid performance during the 2007 season, finishing the year with a 19-9 record.

The Lady Bulldogs finished third in Region 8-AAAA and advanced to the state sectional tournament. It was the first time in 11 years the Lady Bulldogs advanced to state sectionals.

And although the Lady Bulldogs lost two straight games in the sectional, first-year coach Holly Hamilton couldn't help but be pleased with the results she saw in her inaugural season.

Hamilton said some of the highlights included region wins over Eastside and Loganville during the regular season as well as wins over Madison County and Habersham Central in the region tournament.

"I know that this is the first time that this group of seniors have won against Eastside and Loganville," Hamilton said. "Then, we went to the region tournament and beat Madison and Habersham, which were two teams that beat us during the regular season."

The Lady Bulldogs also defeated East Coweta, which was undefeated at the time during the regular season.

Still, Hamilton would have liked it if her team could have overcome a few more hurdles.

"One of the things that didn't go our way is timely errors," she said. "We just didn't close the game. Our biggest obstacle is performing when the pressure is on. If mentally you are not able to handle the pressure and control your actions under the pressure, then you have not prepared yourself fully for the challenge. This is something that I believe the girls are only going to get better at as they mature into young ladies on the softball field.

"I am going to miss the seniors, of course. They were a huge part of why we were able to get things going this year. They really understood the 'whatever it takes' mentality and encouraged the other ones to get on board.

"This group had so much fun together on trips and especially bus rides. I believe one of our biggest strengths was our battery and our ability to take advantage of other teams when they made mistakes."

Hamilton credits much of the team's success to the senior leadership - pitcher Jessie Holmes, catcher Ashleigh George, infielder baseman Kayla Kelly and infielder Whitney Dixe.

"Our leadership was great," Hamilton said. "This group of seniors were able to come together and lead the team. They all believed in the unseen possibility that great things can happen, but you have to work hard to get them. There are no shortcuts to success, only hard work and determination. That was a quote that we put on our T-shirts this year, and they really, truly believed it."

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com