No slowing down of WA softball train in 2017
By David Shelton
Kingstree – Despite the loss of their head coach and a couple of senior leaders, the Williamsburg Academy powerhouse softball team shows no signs of slowing down in 2017.
Williamsburg has won the last two SCISA AA state championships, both coming under the direction of coach Tim Howard. Howard stepped down after last season to focus on his job and his family, turning over the reins to his assistant coach for the last four seasons, Walt Fulton.
The familiarity between coach and player has proven beneficial as Williamsburg Academy has yet to lose a game. Entering a game on April 6th, Williamsburg was 14-0 and looking for more. Though Fulton feels his team has yet to play to its full potential.
“We always strive to play better, to do better,” Fulton said. “It was that way the last two years when we were winning. We are blessed here to have a group of girls that want to work hard and want to compete. We always see things that we can do better so we are always trying to improve.”
Fulton says while many of this year’s team have played on the last two title-winning teams, there is some pressure to continue the success.
“The bar has been set pretty high over the last two years so this team has a lot to live up to,” Fulton said. “Most of them have been here. They know the expectations and that motivates them to work harder. I don’t think this team takes days off. They want to play the best and they want to win.”
Williamsburg is equally adept offensively as they are defensively. The defense starts in the circle where Fulton uses three pitchers – senior Reagan McKenzie and underclassmen Kinslee Wilson and Madison Lamb.
“I feel confident with any of the three out there because they compete,” Fulton said.
All three pitchers also play defensively. McKenzie and Wilson work at third and second base while Lamb starts in centerfield.
Junior Marti Easler is a fourth-year starter and handles the catching duties. Freshman Kendall McKenzie plays first base while junior Brandi Gause plays second or third, depending on the pitcher.
Madi Watford plays shortstop with Gause also seeing time.
Junior Jena Faye Reynolds is a returning starter in left field. With Lamb in center, right field is shared equally by seniors Brooke Locklair and Anne Louise Williamson.
“One of our strengths is that we have versatile girls who can move around and play different positions without hurting us defensively,” Fulton said. “We have very good depth.”
In addition to a competitive region schedule that includes Thomas Sumter, Robert E. Lee, Carolina Academy, Calhoun Academy and Florence Christian, the Stallions have scheduled non-region games against other strong teams in various classifications.
Williamsburg has games with defending AAA state champions Laurence Manning and defending class A state champions Colleton Prep, now a AA school.
“It benefits us to play as tough a schedule as we can play,” Fulton said. “We want tough competition. We want close games that really push us to perform and execute. It makes us better in the end, win or lose.”