THE LADY DRAGON softball team has been hard at work this July gearing up for its 2013 season under new head coach Zach Black.
Black says he is impressed with the team so far and that his transition to head coach has gone smoothly.
“It’s been good,” said Black. “The girls have been working really hard at anything we’ve asked them to do. With it being summer, there have been times where many have been on vacation and others have travel ball going on, so we really haven’t had a full team out there. But the girls we have had out there have been great.”
Even without a full roster, the Lady Dragons have been getting in game experience in several summer league tournaments and competitions. Black noted that several junior varsity players and upcoming ninth graders have filled in holes in the roster and are getting valuable playtime as well.
“It’s good to see them in a game-like setting, where we can see how they compete against some other teams,” Black said.
Black said he is using this preseason time to mostly “sit back and observe” his team and gain insight on what skills his players have and the strategies he might implement.
“We just want to see who can do what,” he said. “I told the girls to use this time in the summer to show me and the other coaches what you can do. If you think you can steal, bunt, etc., use this time to kind of show us what you can do.”
The Lady Dragons enjoyed a state playoff berth last year after a 20-16 (8-1 region) record under former head coach Melissa Mullis. Jefferson was eliminated after a 3-1 loss in the third game of a series with Dade County in the second round of the AA state playoffs.
While the roster is not yet set, it is likely Jefferson will see much of the talent from last year’s team return to the lineup, after graduating only three seniors in May.
Projected returning seniors to the roster include Savannah Snapp, Jordan Phillips, Ashley Boyd, Rachel Holly and Raegen Sandy.
After last year’s playoff run, expectations for the Lady Dragons are sure to be high and Black expects nothing less, as his goal for the season is to return to the state tournament.
“I think the expectations here at Jefferson were set at a pretty high level a long time ago,” said Black. “I think – at any rate – that everybody’s got about the same goal. We want to make a deep run into the playoffs and see if we can get down to Columbus in the Elite 8 and see what happens. From year to year that doesn’t change.”
The Dragons will host a scrimmage on August 6, before traveling to Madison County on August 10 for the 2013 season opener.