Head coach: Miranda Lamb (2nd year)
2018 record: 13-12
Last playoff appearance: 2015
Key losses: Corley Thacker (C), Lanie Knight (P)
Key returners: Gywn Lee (SS), Telacia Thompson (3B), KeLana Gibson (CF), Janae Bellamy (C), Lexie McDonald (P), Mackenzie Rodgers (P)
Key additions: Jada Brown (P/INF)
Outlook: Expectations are high as the 2019 softball season nears for Alcovy, who enters looking to snap a three-year playoff drought.
In the midst of her second season as the Tigers’ head coach and third year in the program, Miranda Lamb has yet to experience the thrill of the postseason. But with a large returning crop and another year of experience under her belt, expectations are at an all-time high.
“I’m super pumped,” Lamb said. “I see the work that they put in and the heart that they have to want to get to the state playoffs. This is my third year apart of the softball program and we haven’t made it. I’m hoping that we can get there and let their hard work pay off.”
Anchoring a talented group of returning players is rising senior Gwyn Lee, the Citizen’s 2018 Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Lee led the area with a .507 batting average on 37 hits while also smacking four home runs.
The Tigers also return starting third baseman, Telacia Thompson, catcher Janae Bellamy, and center fielder KeLana Gibson, as well as pitchers Lexie McDonald and Mackenzie Rodgers. The Tigers have also added Eastside transfer and rising sophomore Jada Brown, who both pitches and plays the field.
Brown batted .429 for Eastside as a freshman and drove in 11 runs on 20 hits.
“She actually came in April and was in my class,” Lamb said of Brown’s arrival. “At first, she said she wasn’t sure if she was going to play or not. She came out and she’s impressed me. To be a rising sophomore, she has a few pitches (in the circle). We’re looking for a little more speed around the bases. She’s going to be a great asset for us this year.”
Despite posing a winning record in 2018 at 13-12, the Tigers fell short in Region 3-AAAAAA play with a disappointing 3-7 record. The Tigers swept a two-game series against Grovetown and took a game against Lakeside before losing their remaining seven.
In order to better prepare themselves for a tough region slate, Lamb constructed a challenging non-region schedule that will feature two games against Eastside, one against Morgan County and one against Newton, all of which made the playoffs one season ago.
“Last year, I didn’t make the schedule,” Lamb said. “We had some easier games last year. I think they made us better as a team, but as a competitor, I don’t know if they made us better. I want my girls fighting to win every game. I think that if we can battle in those close games that aren’t region games, that whenever we do come into the region, we’ll be able to effectively do something on the field.”
While the Tigers’ pitching proved to be its weakness in 2018, Lamb said the potential her offense has shown so far this summer will go a long way in keeping them competitive in 2019.
“Our power is there,” Lamb said. “If we can be smart on the bases, hypothetically speaking, we should score 6-10 runs a game just because I know the talent that we have. I’m hoping that they will stay calm and remember what we’ve practiced and be able to execute during games.”
A better prepared Lamb in her second full season as head coach has already started to pay dividends, she said. Both on and off the field.
“Last year, I got the job in June and we were playing in August,” Lamb said. “Now that I’ve been here for over a year, I knew back in February that I was the head coach. I could start planning then and not have to worry about so much in a short amount of time.”
From cultivating more difficult practices, to having more leadership from her players, the grind that is the softball season shouldn’t impact the Tigers in a negative way, Lamb said.
“I’ve been trying to have tougher practices so that they can get ready for that,” Lamb said. “It’s tough once the season gets here. I constantly remind them to stay hydrated, to stretch really well. That’s something that we’re focusing more on this year because we’ve been hit with the injury bug too many times. I’ve been in real close contract with our athletic trainer. It’s all about getting their bodies ready to play Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.”
The Tigers will begin their season with an away game against Eagles Landing on Aug. 5.