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Timberland High School
St. Stephen

Timberland softball caps season in district finals

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

St. Stephen—After coming close in recent seasons, the Timberland softball team finally reached its first district championship game under head coach Ben Lailson.

 The Wolves went 12-3 during the regular season, including a 6-2 mark in region play. Both losses came to top-ranked Hanahan. They eliminated Bluffton and Georgetown in the playoffs before falling to Gilbert.

“The girls jelled and played well together. They constantly communicated on the field what the situations were, and offensively, this team hit the most home runs in a season in school history. We dedicated ourselves to putting the ball in play. They were dedicated to wanting to get better and it paid dividends for them,” Lailson said.

With the season ending, Timberland will lose three seniors – pitcher/outfielder Jenna Winningham, third baseman/pitcher Haley Welch and second baseman Kenlen Gaskins. Welch batted nearly .600 with four home runs while Winningham collected an average just over .300.

“They blossomed a lot more this year,” said Lailson. “All three of them have been with me since I got here, from their seventh-grade year until now. It’s been fun to watch them grow, not only has young ladies but as ballplayers. We’re going to miss them tremendously.”

The Wolves only had two juniors this year, so the roster was very young. Eighth-grade catcher Gracie Prince hit .608 with five home runs and threw out several potential base stealers. Freshman centerfielder Brooke Moody was batting .440 before missing the final three weeks of the season with a broken thumb.

Freshman shortstop/pitcher Tori Rose (.415), eighth-grade utility player Hailey Gaskins (.350) and junior first baseman Lizzie Zeigler (.390, 2 HR) will try to build off solid seasons as well. Outfielders Morgan Bradley and Madison Waddy should also be back.

“Those seniors have kind of passed the torch to the younger players. I feel very confident that they can do a good job and we’ll see how things go next year. Our goal is always to win region and district, and with the nucleus we have returning, maybe we can make a run for it again,” said Lailson.

In other news, Timberland basketball standout DJ Johnson recently signed a scholarship to play for Catawba College next year. The 6’7, 210-pound forward averaged 14 points and eight rebounds as a senior.

“This day is just a blessing. I had two mid-major Division-I offers and then they just stopped recruiting me. I kind of lost hope for a minute, but I kept praying. My mom and dad kept telling me that things would be okay. I’m so glad that I found a home in Catawba. This means so much to me,” Johnson said.

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