The Eastside softball team is back for another season, and with a strong group of returning seniors, the Eagles already have their sights set on the postseason.
“This is a special season for us, because we have so many seniors this year,” said head coach Heather Wood. “We have nine seniors, so I’m excited about coaching this group and the amount of leadership that we’re going to have this year. Most of the girls have played together for years, so there’s a strong sense of unity and accountability with each other.”
Seniors returning for the Eagles this year are outfielder Ally Allgood, pitcher Molly Moon, pitcher Lauren Beshears, outfielder and first baseman Coley Edwards, infielder Taylor Baggett, outfielder Madison McCrorey, pitcher Kacie Fincher, infielder Alyssa Betts and utility player Ashleigh Williams.
The team also boasts four pitchers this year, which gives the Eagles great depth at that position.
“One strength I think we have this year is that we have a lot of depth pitching wise,” Wood said. “We have four pitchers this year, so I think they’ll put us in a position to win ballgames this year and will put us in positions to compete with every team.”
Eastside finished the 2015 season with a 22-13 overall record and 13-4 in Region 4-AAAA. The Eagles fell to North Oconee in the second round of the region playoffs.
This year, the hope is to get to Columbus, Georgia at the end of the season.
“That’s always a goal I think every team has, to make it to Columbus and make it to the Elite 8,” Wood said. “But we also want to make sure we perform well in our region and then execute and perform well as we move forward through postseason. We always want to get far in postseason and to get in a good position where we have a chance to advance to Columbus.”
Also on the team this year are junior McKenzie Walker, freshmen Alysee Dobbs and Kailey Rusk-Freshman, and sophomores Jordan Rittenbacher, Kendal McAuliffe and Dani Fairey. With so many bright spots on the team, Wood could not pinpoint just one particular player she felt would have a breakout season.
“Usually we have a couple standouts or someone that I really expect a lot to come from them, but this year, I think they all bring something to the team, especially since we have such an older team this year,” she said. “A lot of them have the ability to perform at any given time, so this is one year I can honestly say there’s not one player that stands out over another. I think it’s just who shows up on that day. They all bring something different to the team and play different roles.”
The Eagles opened up their season on Thursday at home against Monticello, but all of their sights are set on Woodward Academy, a region opponent they’ll face on Tuesday.
“They will be one of the stronger teams in our region, so right out of the gate, that’s our first region game,” Wood said. “Right now our focus is preparing for that. Every region game is going to be crucial for us so that we’re in a good position for postseason.”