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Alcovy returns with mix of youth and experience

COVINGTON - A new season brings new hopes for the Lady Tigers softball team as it gets ready to start its season with a mixture of experience and new players with eight freshman and 10 returners.

"We are not having a JV (team) due to the fact that most of those freshmen will see time on the varsity," Alcovy head coach Casey Bates said. "Chelsea Murphy will have a large role as a freshman pitching and (playing) short stop. Dallas Hardin will have another huge role in pitching in the big games again this year and leading off."

Even though there is no JV team, Bates has scheduled JV games to give the freshmen and younger players some game experience.

While having a group of freshmen on the team can be used to build for the future, it can also be detrimental because of lack of experience at the varsity level. However, that does not mean that the freshmen eight are without experience.

"Most played travel ball so that should help out a lot," Bates said.

One aspect of their game that the Lady Tigers are not lacking in will be in the circle.

"We have 5 pitchers this year that can throw strikes and Dallas Hardin will see most of the big games all season as our returning No. 1 starter. Chelsea Murphy will also see a lot of time in the circle as well as others."

Besides Hardin, Bates also has Summer Kusch, Kelsey Sweat, Melody Belcher, Jaime Watson, Maycee Smith, Ashden Middlebrooks, Samantha Cronan, Caitlin Williams and Jasmine Tolen returning.

Of the 10 returners, Sweat has been the biggest surprise for Bates.

She is returning with a strong bat, bringing much needed power in the No. 3 or No. 4 spot on the line up.

They are going to need Sweat's strength and the pitching staff's accuracy along with a solid defense if they hope to reach their goal of winning Region 4-AAAA and going to Columbus.

"We hope to finish No. 1 (in the region) but Ola, Griffin, Dutchtown and Stockbridge have solid teams as well," Bates said. "We are working hard every day at practice and pushing the girls to the limit each day to adjust to the heat and field conditions throughout the season. We just have to do our part each game and see what happens."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

· Team: Alcovy softball

· Coach: Casey Bates (fourth year)

· Last year's record: 17-12

· First game: Friday vs. Lamar County at 5 p.m. in the Spalding Diamond Classic at Volunteer Park in Griffin