Seniors are expected to bolster the Thomson High School Lady Bulldogs' fast-pitch softball team this season.
There are seven of them on this year's team.
"It's great to have this many seniors on a softball team, because you know you have a lot of experience and some leadership skills, too," said Thomson High School Head Coach Jason Osborn. "We're counting on each of them to help us out on the field, as well as when leadership is needed."
The Lady Bulldogs travel today to Sylvania to play Screven County in a scrimmage game. It marks the first time ever that the Georgia High School Association has allowed softball teams to scrimmage before the season.
Thomson will begin their season next week, as they host the Thomson High School Invitational Fast-Pitch Softball Tournament.
On Monday, the Lady Bulldogs will play Aquinas of Augusta at 6 p.m. Next Tuesday, Thomson will play Washington-Wilkes' Lady Tigers at 4 p.m. and then on Wednesday, Thomson will play Burke County's Lady Bears at 6 p.m.
"This is what we've been practicing for all summer - is the start of another season," said Coach Osborn.
The Lady Bulldogs finished runners-up in summer league play against three other schools - Aquinas, Evans and Harlem.
This season, the Lady Bulldogs have their work cut out. They play a torrid schedule that includes five of seven teams having played for state championships or finished runners-up in recent years. Those teams include the likes of Greenbrier High School of Evans; Effingham County, South Effingham, Dunwoody, North Forsyth and Harris County.
"I believe we're ready to take on stronger teams," said Coach Osborn, who is beginning his third season at Thomson High School. "We'll never know how good we are until we play some of the really stronger teams in the state."
He said he will have his players approach those games just like he does all games.
"I tell the players, you've got to walk onto the field, thinking you're the best, whether you really are or not," said Coach Osborn. "This is a hard-working group of girls. They gave up practically all of the summer just to learn to play this game better. That says something about them as a team and as individuals."
He believes his team is ready to meet the challenges that await them for another season.
"Overall, we just have a few more pieces of the puzzle, so to speak, to work out as far personnel and their positions," added Coach Osborn, who will be assisted by Coaches Bennie Lee Hester and Jason Brooks. "I'm going to reserve talking about players on an individual basis right now, but will after the season starts."
Members of this year's varsity fast-pitch softball team are seniors: Casey Brooks, Mary Catherine Finnerty, Liz Jenkins, Chelsea Jones, Gloria Rowland, India Usry and Nichole Usry.
Other members of the team include: Sarah Kate Blasingame, Hannah Wilson, Caitlin Carpenter, Whitney Hillman, Amber Overton, Hannah Pereda, Chelsea Reeves, Heather Shivers and Natasha Seals.