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SCHS softball has a lot of work to do

With but six playing returning with significant playing time under their belt and a roster that is nearly one-half freshmen, the SCHS Lady Gamecock softball team of Billy Pollock looked to have a tough row to hoe when they opened their 2014 campaign Monday at AAA Southeast Bulloch before traveling to Marlow to face AAAAA South Effingham Tuesday.  
SCHS defeated SEB 7-5, thanks to a three-run homerun from Rebekah Woods. On Tuesday, the Lady Gamecocks would lose to South Effingham 13-1.
The Red and White are away in Louisville this Aug. 14 afternoon for their Region 3AA lidlifter against the Jefferson County Lady Warriors.
Dublin will be here for the home region opener Tuesday, Aug. 19. Trips to AAAAA Effingham County on the 20th and region foe Swainsboro on the 21st also are on tap for next week.
“We have 15 girls on our roster led by three returning seniors,” said head coach Billy Pollock. “We are strong in the middle with all five players returning from last season.”
Indeed if the team has a strength it will be up the middle with junior Victoria Winters behind the plate; senior Taryn Burns on the mound; junior Woods at short; junior Jancy Durrence at second; and senior Lily Howard in center as the returning starters.  
When not pitching, Burns will see action on the left side of the infield. Sophomore Allie Bazemore saw action in 18 games a year ago and could also figure in at the centerfield position.
The big question marks will be the infield and outfield corners.
Crucial to any offensive success the team may have will be the performance of the top three hitters from the 2013 roster.  
Woods at .442 (38-86); Durrence at .345 (30-87); and Winters at .311 (23-74) were tops on last season’s hitting stats. Each will be looking to improve on some already impressive numbers. Woods (24) and Durrence (15) were the top run producers with the duo also being one and two with runs scored at 27 and 23, respectively.
The pitching staff will be built around Burns who is into her second season as the Lady Gamecocks’ top pitcher. A season ago she was 8-9 with a 4.79 ERA in 99.3 innings pitched.  
Woods saw action in nine games, hurling just 15.3 innings, finishing with a 2-3 record. Freshmen Kara Canetto and Payton Ward may quickly see action in the regular season as well.
Competition was ongoing for the corner infield spots as this week began with the freshman Canetto seemingly having the upper hand at third with first base wide open.  
Sophomore Charley Pitts and freshman Caitlyn Harley were vying for the spot with a chance that Winters might see some time there as well. Other catchers are a pair of freshmen in Maggie Hager and Gee Gee Beasley.
“One of the things that I really like about this group is their defensive versatility,” explained Pollock. “Many of the players play multiple positions and play them well. This opens up many different options to see what we as coaches feel work the best. Also having three pitchers this year will give Taryn some early relief to make sure she feels great toward the end of the season.”
Also competing for spots in the outfield are two-year veteran Whitney Gay and freshmen Pamela Dixon and Kortlyn Rankin.
While the veteran group of Woods, Durrence and Winters will stabilize the top of the order, the remainder of the spots must contribute as all others return with a combined batting average of under .100.  
“Offensively, we are a lot faster with a lot more versatility,” said Pollock when asked of that dilemma. “It may be possible to have four or five slappers in the lineup at any single time. Power hitters Rebakah, Victoria, Taryn and Maggie will drive in the runs from different positions in the order. We should be able to get back to the put it on the ground and put pressure on defense.”
Pollock concluded with, “The girls have been working extremely hard to learn the defensive plays that we do and to perfect our style of softball. There has been only great attitudes by all and superb leadership from our older girls.”