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Experience is key to Lady Eagles softball

COVINGTON — With 12 returning players from last year’s softball team, Eastside head coach Heather Wood is counting on that experience to take them all the way to Columbus.

“A lot of the girls from the get-go have a main goal of getting to Columbus. I think the experience is going to benefit us this year,” she said. “Our season goals are to be competitive in our region, we also want to continue through the postseason. We’re going to do anything we can to push them and to perform well not only in our region but in postseason.”

Wood, who is returning as the Eastside softball coach after a several year hiatus, will be doing things a little different than it had be done in the past. One thing she will do is carry a roster of 16 players.

“I was expecting to have a team of 12 but we have so many girls I think can play at the varsity level I decided to carry a full load,” Wood said. “I want to instill in them the importance of being a team player and stepping up to their role they’re asked to perform. Everything we do is in the best interest of the team.”

One good thing about having such a large team is that she can have a good rotation of pitchers. While senior Madison Hopper will be the primary pitcher, look for junior Caitlin Ray and sophomore Molly Moon to spend a lot of time in the circle.

“This is going to be more of a developing year for her because she will be a starter down the road for us. Right now she’s young so we want to her to improve and get some pitching time,” Wood said of Moon. “

“I think there’s so much that fall on pitchers with their leadership ability on the field. We play a sport where the pitcher has a big circle around them. They’re what guides the team so I’m going to rely on them not only for their pitching ability but to accept that leadership role on the field to carry the team.”

Even though there are still some aspects of the game that have to be tweaked and kinks that have to worked out, Wood likes the way the girls have responded to the coaching change and how hard they have worked during the offseason. One way the team responded to the changes was best seen by the enthusiasm shown by the team and the high turnout during the summer workouts.

The Lady Eagles will begin their 2014 campaign in the South Gwinnett tournament against North Gwinnett at 5:45 p.m. at Monroe Area.

“I think it’s a good tournament to start out with. You see a good mixture of competition and I want us to be sure we’re prepared when we start region on Aug. 19 against Hampton. I want to do everything I can to make sure we’re ready for region play,” Wood said.

“I think we have a good strong foundation and the girls know the game and know the fundamentals. But of course in these tournaments and early games we’ll see areas we need to improve on. I expect us to step up to the plate and be competitive in our region and against good teams we face.”