COVINGTON — Eastside’s softball team find themselves in a familiar situation as they once again find themselves with a team full of young players as they get ready to start the 2013 season.
The 2012 Lady Eagles found themselves with five starting freshman and four upper classmen. This year’s team will again be made up of young players but with one main difference — pitching depth.
“At the beginning of the year we had five freshman starting and we had Reese (Rogers), our main pitcher back,” Eastside head coach Jason Stokes said. “From the end of last year, I say should be a good bit stronger.”
Helping Rogers with the pitching responsibilities include sophomores Caiti Ray and Brittany Medlin, junior Madison Hopper and senior Katie Fletcher. As a freshman, Ray helped with pitching duties as did Hopper. This year Ray is a year older and stronger while Hopper’s talents have improved exponentially.
“We didn’t have Katie Fletcher last year, she was out because of injury, but we have her back,” Stokes said. “Reese is going to be the workhorse again this year. When it’s a big time game she’s going to be on the hill. She showed me this summer that she’s definitely going to be where we’re going. I feel like we’re going to play better than we did last year. Our record should show a lot better.”
Eastside finished with an overall record of 16-15 and 6-5 in Region 8-AAAA losing to Lanier in the region tournament.
While Eastside’s team was young last year, they’re going to be young again this year as they have eight sophomores, three freshman, two juniors and two seniors.
“I have a really good freshman crew that came in again this year,” Stokes said. “The freshman crew that came in last year was strong and this one is just as strong.”
A couple of the things that have changed from last year is the amount help Stokes has as well as they are in the weight room getting stronger.
When Stokes had the girls lifting three years ago, the team had astonishing results. Taylor Hawkins finished the season with 10 home runs followed by Kenya Shakoor with five and pitcher Taylor Causey with three. Unfortunately they were unable to maintain that same amount of commitment. As a result, the power decreased.
“Last year we just weren’t able to get in (weight room) here. Is it something new? No. But it’s something that this year we’re going to make time for,” Stokes said. “It may take away from some of the things we do but I want to make sure we get this done.”
Helping Stokes with the coaching duties are Michael Poor, Alisha Hall, Tara Donnelly and Scott Walker. Stokes is hoping that the added coaches will allow more one-on-one instruction with the players.
While there are a lot of positives this team brings over last year, there are also some deficiencies. A couple pf things lacking from the previous teams include speed and slap hitting.
However, Stokes feels that the positives this team brings are more than enough to overcome what they have lost.
“I’m excited to see what this group can do, I really am. I feel like we’re prepared. That first tournament we go into we won’t be like ‘I wish we would’ve covered bunt defense more.’ We’ve covered all of those aspects. We should be better immediately at the beginning of the year then we were last year,” Stokes said. “I feel really good about what I’m putting out there. We have nothing that will turn people’s heads but I think we’re going to be solid. I’m just excited to see what we can do.”