Lady Cats Softball prepares for season opener

Published 11:39 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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Head Softball Coach Rex Wade kept his team in shape this summer, holding three to four weekly practices since June. He said the summer sessions are vital for building a foundation for the team because of the level of involvement the regular season demands.

“Between all three programs, varsity, JV, and middle school, the entire season, we have about three days off as far as games,” Wade said. “When we get to the season, it’s really just fine-tuning and making very minor changes. [Summer] is where we install, where we learn our systems.”

The team trends younger but has eight returning players for the 2023 season. 

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Wade said the program has a “big group” of freshman players coming up. The majority will play on the junior varsity team, and Wade will call players up as needed to play on the varsity team.

“They’ve bought in. They’ve come a long way from the start of the summer,” Wade said. “JV and varsity practice together, so the younger girls are seeing what, the older varsity girls are doing. They’re learning and adapting from those girls.”

The Lady Cats have two seniors — pitcher Brenna Conley and short-stop Haylee Nix. They have been a part of the program since playing for the Bainbridge Middle School team. 

“Our two seniors this year, who are both outstanding athletes,… have been with us since they were in sixth, seventh grade,” Wade said. “They’re just awesome kids and great softball players.”

Wade said because of the program’s younger roster, the varsity players have taken opportunities to grow as leaders.

“We only have two seniors, who are great leaders, but some of the juniors are starting to step up and lead and teach those younger girls,” Wade said. 

Wade said his players have solid softball fundamentals and that he’s focusing on growing their softball knowledge during the summer practices and throughout the season.

“We’ve just been beating softball IQ into their minds,” Wade said. “Like, knowing softball, knowing exactly what to do on every single play that you could ever think of. Not having to use your brain, your body does it without even thinking. That’s what we’ve built here.” 

The team competed in the “Lady Dawgs Summer Tournament” this week, playing in and winning two games. The Lady Cats beat Pierce County 2-0 and Tift County 3-1. 

Wade had freshman pitcher Laynie Varnum take over on the mound in the second inning of the game against Tift County. Varnum let up only one run and helped the Lady Cats secure the victory.

“She did what she was supposed to do,” Wade said. “She got ground balls, she got fly balls, she got line drives, and we played behind her. I was very, very impressed.”

Wade said the tournament was “outstanding” and the first proper showing of the team this offseason. The Lady Cats have played in other competitions this season but with players missing. The entire roster was present for the Lady Dawgs tournament. 

“Hopefully, we can take that momentum into the season,” Wade said.

The Lady Cats’ season starts Aug. 8 at home against Colquitt County High School.