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Lady Bucs prepare for season

The Lady Bucs are playing a new game on the diamond.

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Briarwood's Lauren Brown swings during a scrimmage last week.

Since the inauguration of the softball program at Briarwood, slow-pitch had been the name of the game. Now, the team has moved to the very popular fast-pitch level of the game, which means a new logic and game plan for the players and coaching staff.

Veteran Lady Buc Head Coach Robert Waller knows his players must overcome adversity and learn the game of fast-pitch. However, he is optimistic about his team's chances for a successful season.

"Fast-Pitch softball is new to our school and to our players, but so far in practice, everyone has excelled to learn the new techniques and situations," Coach Waller said. "This sport is a pitcher-dominated game, just like baseball, with the catcher playing a major role in the game. Our pitchers and catchers must be ready for the challenges that await them.

"With the pitcher and catcher being a big part in our game, the opposing offense might not put the ball into play only two or three times. However, our other defensive players must be on their toes to make the plays if the opposition gets hits off of our pitching staff," he said.

The 2004 Lady Buccaneer roster is comprised of 13 young ladies who are ready for the test on the fast-pitch diamond. In this group are three seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.

The trio of seniors who will definitely be the leaders for the Lady Bucs are Anne Wills, Ashley Pickard and Blythe Ansley. Wills will control the duty of shortstop for Briarwood, while Pickard and Ansley will be mainstays at first base and catcher respectively.

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Caitlin Rogers slaps a base hit during last week's scrimmage.

Juniors for the Lady Buccaneers include Katie Reese, Beth Gerlach and Lauren Brown.

The four sophomores who will play a major role in the game-plan for Briarwood this season are Ali Dyson, Liz Grant, Olivia Lyons and Angela Kirkland.

The trio of freshmen are Sarah Nutial, Kaitlin Rogers and Cassie Pickrell.

"One of the strengths of our team this year will absolutely be our senior leadership of Wills, Pickard and Ansley," Waller said. "These players were slow-pitch all-stars, and they were tremendous leaders for us on the field."

Waller noted that two other areas of his team should be strong points also. The defensive infield and base-running should be no problem for his team.

As with every team, whether in softball, football, or any sport, there are those weaknesses that can hurt and destroy a season for a squad. And with the Lady Buccaneers, they have three weaknesses that the players must overcome in a hurry.

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Caitlin Rogers unleashes a pitch.

"First and foremost, our greatest weakness this season is the adaption of the newness of the game of fast-pitch," Waller said. "With that, comes another weakness at the plate...the first-time ever that our players are hitting fast-pitch softball."

The final weakness is a lack of speed in the outfield, a problem the team didn't have last year.

"We lost some speedsters due to graduation that were great players for us in the outfield, however, our players this season have come a long way, and I am proud of their accomplishments," Waller said.

The Lady Buccaneers will open their regular season next Monday afternoon, August 16, on the road at Thomas Jefferson Academy. The squad's first home game will be on Monday, August 23 against Westminister.

"We have seven teams in our region this year, and two of those squads are powerhouses," Waller said. "The Lady Gators of Gatewood and the Lady Eagles of Brentwood will be very tough to beat. Brentwood finished second in the state last year."

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Anne Wills applies a tag to a Thomson Jefferson runner.

The Lady Buccaneers are coming off back-to-back seasons that saw them capture second place in the state in GISA slow-pitch action behind arch-rival Pinewood Academy. That success could continue for the squad, if the team overcomes the tremendous transition to fast-pitch.

Helping Waller in the dugout and on the base paths this season is former Nathaniel Greene head softball coach Greg Keck, who joined the staff this season.



Web posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004


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