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Carolina Academy High School
Lake City

Carolina Academy softball off to great start in 2019

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Lake City – Most everything has gone right for the Carolina Academy softball team in the early portion of the 2019 season.

Veteran head coach Scotty Phillips has seen his team win nine of their first 12 games this season, competing well against a tough early season schedule.

“We have a pretty good group this year and we have the potential to be a very good team,” Phillips says. “Long way to go though. We’re probably not quite up there with the great teams like Marlboro Academy, Pee Dee Academy and Williamsburg yet. But I feel like we have a team that can hang in there with everyone we play. We will be a competitive team.”

This year’s roster overall is fairly young but Phillips does have three key senior leaders back to guide the younger players through the season.

Senior Madison Lee returns behind the plate and is equally important offensively as she is defensively. Lee was red hot to start the season, hitting over .600 through the first 12 games.

Senior Alyssa Newell also rates as a key offensive performer and works primarily as the designated hitter. The third starting senior is leftfielder Laura Kelly Cook.

Phillips lost all-state pitcher Reagan Castles to graduation and has turned the primary duties over to sophomore Jaimee Epps. Epps has taken well to her responsibilities so far, posting seven early wins while allowing two earned runs in 40 innings with 49 strikeouts and only four walks. Epps also rates as top performer in the offensive lineup with two early homeruns.

“She has been great,” Phillips said. “She has good movement on her ball. She pitched a little last year but really worked hard in the offseason to become the top pitcher. The hard work shows.”

Freshman Gracen Bradley also is getting work inside the circle in the early stages of this season.

Sophomore Vandi Timmons has taken over duties at first base as a first-year starter. Eighth-grader Maggie Johnson is starting at second base and sophomore Harley Welch starts at short. Welch is another of the key leaders offensively, according to Phillips.

 Freshman Rachel Yarborough is starting at third base, with junior Paxton Bish utilizing her outstanding speed in centerfield. Eighth-grader Clare Floyd draws the early nod as the starter in right field.

Offensively, the Bobcats have been on a torrid pace early on with four hitters topping .500 and five others over .400 in the first 10 games or so.

“We’ve hit extremely well so far but we know we will see better pitching as we go through the season,” Phillips said. “We do have some good hitters. The averages may come down some but overall I feel like we will be a good hitting team. Putting the ball in play and not striking out are the big things. Make things happen.”

Phillips says while there is youth on the field in several spots, the team’s work ethic is compensating for a lack of experience.

“This group has a great attitude and they are working hard every day,” the coach said. “They care a lot about doing the right thing and doing what it takes to win. That’s a good way to play. As long as we keep putting in the work and getting better, we should be okay.”

Carolina Academy’s region schedule will include games with Calhoun, Thomas Sumter, Williamsburg and Northside Christian. Williamsburg is a perennial state title contender and the team to beat in the region.

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