After two years, the John Milledge Academy varsity softball team finally has an appropriate roster. The team was limited with only 10 players last year.
Head coach Kori Pickowitz said the intersquad competition forces players to work harder than the person next to them.
“It’s been our goal for the past two years. It’s exciting to see it come together. When you have depth and numbers, it creates the team atmosphere every coach wants,” Pickowitz said.
JMA’s roster includes four seniors, six juniors, two sophomores, two freshmen and three eighth-graders.
Flexibility provides the Trojans a chance to confuse opponents this fall and improve on a fifth place region finish in 2012.
“It gives us options. Things are coming around,” the head coach said. “We can use our strengths and weaknesses game to game.”
Trojan softball spent the last month getting to know each other.
New additions Logan Bowden, Mallory Stafford and Courtney Cox process the game well.
“It’s nice to coach players that have some background, so we can move forward,” Pickowitz said.
Seniors MaRae Callaway, Cullen Ormond, Haley Thigpen and Kate Giddens have valuable experience under the current coaching staff. Pickowitz looks to Giddens as the standard.
The talented senior helps mold the team with a strong work ethic.
“Kate knows the game very well. She thinks like you want every single one of your players to think like,” the JMA coach said. “She knows the expectations. It makes it easier as a staff to have those returners that can help get the flow of practice going.”
JMA will take the next step this fall with more complex and fun softball plays. Look for the Trojans to vary pitching strategy and incorporate different defensive plays to throw off opposition.
“We’ve been able to go to the next level and do more complex things other than just fundamentals. Adding some of those fun plays is not only exciting for us but for the girls as well,” Pickowitz said.
Junior Kelsey Chambers produced an optimal on base percentage last season. Pickowitz wants the team to follow suit.
The Trojans feature plenty of contact hitters and speed. Aggressive base running and scoring first should create early leads allowing JMA to put pressure on teams with defense.
Giddens and freshman pitcher Megan Davis will trade turns in the circle this season.
John Milledge opens at home Thursday, Aug. 6 against Mount de Sales Academy. The team then travels to the Piedmont Tournament Aug. 8-10.
Pickowitz said a big part of the early season schedule is going to be this pre-region tournament.
“Tournament time is the best time to see what we have in a live game situation. I think we will find the right role for each player,” she said.
The Trojan head coach admitted it would take five or six games to see who fits where before the first region battle against Brentwood Aug. 22.
For now, JMA focuses time and energy on improving as a team more than worrying about any competitors.
Pickowitz believes her girls will fight until the last inning.
“Our girls are overachievers. They want to excel in everything they do. It’s big to have every player on the same page to have team success,” the head coach said.