MILLEDGEVILLE — Earning all three wins for Georgia Military Prep School softball in the Mark Moseley Memorial Diamond Classic in Evans last weekend, with two against top-ranked opponents, junior pitcher Dixie Raley emerged as this week’s U-R Athlete of the Week.
Raley, coming off of an injury, pitched a 9-0 shutout against Georgia High School Association’s second-ranked AAAA team, Madison County, and a 10-1 run-rule victory over eighth-ranked AAA team Franklin County.
“That was the first whole games that I pitched,” Raley said. “I was really proud of myself getting back into the groove of things and it really got my confidence back.”
A year ago, taking down top-10 ranked opponents would have been a surprise, but Raley has come a long way since her sophomore season with the Lady Bulldogs.
“She’s really worked hard in the off-season and played a lot of travel ball and a lot of lessons and she’s coming into her own. She’s earned everything she’s gotten,” Julie Brooker, head coach, said. “Last year, Dixie was still a starter, but was not counted on as heavily, but this year with the amount of the mound time she’s really come into her own. She pretty much shares the starts with Macy [Watkins], so we’re definitely counting on her more.”
Raley believes her game elevated after her win against Gordon Lee in the GHSA state tournament last year.
“Coming out of that game against Gordon Lee, I was a lot more confident and it helped me relax more,” she said. “Over the past year I’ve been playing and pitching a lot more. I’ve been focusing on more pitches and putting more time into it, and that’s really helped.”
Combining for 19 strikeouts in the last two games of the tournament last weekend against Franklin County and Harlem, Raley’s pitching has reached its highest level yet in her young career, but her offensive production has also improved drastically this season.
According to Brooker, the junior has grown since last year and gotten stronger, shown by her three RBI double against Madison County and one RBI double against Franklin County in the tournament.
“She’s grown a little bit and she’s also gotten a little stronger, so all of those things come into play,” Brooker said. “I think the confidence just carries overall throughout her game. She’s hitting the ball really well, and she’s hitting in the heart of our lineup now; she makes good contact.”
Brooker and assistant coach Allen Simmons are proud of the way Raley has stepped up her game this season, but also her ability to lead the team.
“Coach Simmons and I are proud of the way Dixie is carrying herself, and leading the team,” Brooker said.
Honored to be picked as Athlete of the Week, Raley believes her performances and the team’s success are exactly where they need to be, but she hopes to continue to improve into the post-season.
“I’m really excited about it and honored that I got picked,” she said. “Being this early in the season and having this much success we’re right where we need to be, and hopefully we can just keep it going throughout the rest of the season.”