Phillips sees potential in Carolina Academy softball team
By David Shelton
Lake City – The first half of the 2017 softball season has been a roller coaster for the Carolina Academy Bobcats of coach Scotty Phillips.
However, after some ups and downs early, things appear to be trending upward for the Bobcats. Phillips says his team needed some time to gel and feels his team is starting to put things together.
“We’re getting better, starting to hit our stride a little,” said the 18-year coaching veteran who saw the school’s softball field named in his honor recently. “I have started to see real progress in our most recent games. Talent-wise we are pretty solid. I really believe this team has a shot to contend if we play the way we are capable of.
“We start only two seniors. We have a lot of young kids starting. They are talented and they are improving but they needed some time. We play a good schedule so it’s not always easy.”
Including some preseason tournament play, Carolina Academy sits at 14-12 overall heading into April 6th. The Bobcats have played two-time defending state champion Williamsburg Academy, defending AAA state champion Laurence Manning, as well as AA contender and region foe Thomas Sumter.
The Bobcats are solid in the pitching circle with junior all-stater Reagan Castles anchoring the staff.
“She’s real solid and she’s really starting to round into form.” Phillips said. “She had mono early and she was a little weak. She’s getting stronger now and she’s back to throwing as hard as she normally did.”
Returning as the starting catcher is sophomore Madison Lee, a defensive juggernaut with strong leadership ability.
Junior Maggie Prosser starts at first base with senior Reagan Springs back at second. Springs is one of the team’s top hitters, according to Phillips.
Starting at shortstop is eighth-grader Harley Welch, a future star says Phillips.
“She is tough as nails, really competitive and a real up and comer,” the coach said. “She hits second in our lineup and she has no fear.”
Sharing time at third this season are junior Lydia Durant and eighth-grader Jamie Epps, who also sees time in the circle.
Freshman Paxton Dish is starting in left field while senior Jessica Welch works in center. Junior Emily Alexander, a .470 hitter, is starting in right but will likely move to designated hitter.
Junior Mallory Ward, the starting leftfielder last season, has been injured but is slated to return to action next week. Dish will then move to right field defensively.
Carolina Academy sits in second-place in the region standings, behind Williamsburg. Phillips says Williamsburg Academy is the best team in the state but feels his group can compete. Carolina Academy will play Thomas Sumter on April 18th and Williamsburg on April 28th. Those two games will likely decide the top two spots in the region standings.
“There are some really good teams in AA but I think Williamsburg, right now, is as solid overall as any team I’ve seen in all my years of coaching,” said Phillips, who has won five state titles at Carolina Academy. “But we can compete with them and I think some other teams can as well. We have to put it all together and peak at the right time. I think we’ve got a good, competitive group overall.”
The Carolina Academy golf team is having a competitive season, posting several strong showings during the month of March.
Leading the team through the first month are Noah Mims, Hank Reynolds, Luke Parrott, Will Matthews and Matthew Lamb. Also contributing are Wilson Long, Landon Bradshaw, Coleman Johnson and Emma Hunt.