The 2007 fast-pitch softball season begins today (Thursday) at Briarwood Academy with the Lady Buccaneers taking on the perennial power house team of Pinewood Christian Schools.
Game time is 4:15 p.m.
"We're going to be young, but we've got a couple of veteran pitchers that we're counting on to help us a lot this season," said Briarwood Head Coach Christian Tiller, who is entering his second season at the school. "We've been practicing for less than two weeks, but we've had some pretty good practices. I'm hoping we're ready for the season."
Caitlin Rodgers, a senior, is the team's ace pitcher.
"She is a very hard worker," Coach Tiller said. "She has a nasty change-up pitch, as well as good curve and screw ball pitches."
Rogers also is regarded as a power hitter and is likely to bat third in the lineup, Coach Tiller said.
The other starting pitcher for the team is Sarah Nutial, a junior.
"Sarah is the type of pitcher, who goes right after a batter," Coach Tiller said, adding that her best pitch is her fastball. "She can bring it from speeds in the upper 50s to the low 60s, which is pretty good speed for a junior."
Last season, the Lady Bucs finished the season at 17-9. The team just missed making it into the final four of the State Class AA playoffs by a mere run.
Defensively, the Lady Bucs, though young at certain positions, should be a relatively sound team, the coach believes.
"We have a number of players who have played in our softball program for a while, so we feel we'll be alright," Coach Tiller said. "I'm hoping we'll continue to show signs of improvement, defensively."
Coach Tiller is counting on the services of several veteran players this season.
One of them is senior Whitney Carani, who will play center field. Last year, Carani was named to the All-Region Team.
The other two outfield positions will be anchored by Emily Henderson, a freshman, who will be the starting right fielder; and Lizzie Keen, a sophomore, who will start in left field.
The Briarwood infield, meanwhile, will consists of sophomore first baseman Erin Phelps; sophomore second baseman Gerry Hall; freshman third baseman Maria Johnson; and senior catcher Jordin Barnes. The catcher is a transfer student from Thomson High School.
Shortstop will be played at various times between Rodgers and Nutial - depending on which one happens to be pitching at the time.
Other players on the team include: Savannah Carani, a freshman; Jessica Oliphant, a freshman; and Carson Palmer, a sophomore transfer student from Greenbrier High School in Evans.