Last Jackets gear up for year ahead
Like a lot of teams at North Augusta High School, the softball team has a tradition of excellence.
Last year, head coach Derrick Quinn had a squad dominated by juniors. Those players will return, highlighted by pitcher Meghan Whitfield and second-baseman Brooke Lavallee in this year’s senior class.
Though the team will miss the contributions of center-fielder Sarah Fulmer and shortstop Jacquie Hill, who graduated last year, expectations are quite high for this year’s squad.
“We’ve got six seniors and I lost two starters off last year’s team,” head coach Derrick Quinn said. “If they progress like they’re supposed to; I mean our goal every year is a chance to win the region. I think we have that chance.”
Joining Whitfield and Lavallee are left-fielder Grace Flanders, first-baseman Chelsea Newman, right-fielder Haley Dunbar and third-baseman Kaleigh Busbee in this year’s class.
“I feel very confident in our team,” Whitfield said. “I think we have a good team and we’ve been waiting on a good team.”
Lavallee said she thinks the team will have a good year as long as she and her teammates “keep their heads up.”
“I hope to become a better hitter and to make less overthrows than last year,” she said.
Last year the team finished with a 13-12 mark but did not win a playoff game. It was the first time in over a decade that had happened. However, a big reason why the team made it as far as it did was the contributions of Whitfield – a player that made the all-region team.
“I’d like to do that again,” she said. “Three years in a row ... that’d be awesome. I hope to at least make the all-star team. Definitely want to throw less balls this year though.”
Quinn said the biggest bright spot for this year’s squad is all of the players who returned.
“I can tell they’ve worked hard on their skill level and everyone is improved,” he said. “I think our attitude is great; we have very good team chemistry.”
That said, Quinn said he and the staff are expecting big things from Whitfield.
“She puts in the time and she had a real good season last year,” he said. “We expect more of the same.”
On Thursday afternoon the players were all excited to be out on the diamond. Even though the season won’t officially get underway until the Midland Valley Tournament, which is Feb. 28 through March 8. The team will have a scrimmage at Irmo on Feb. 19 and a marathon game on Feb. 22.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star.