WARRENTON - Briarwood Academy's Caitlin Rodgers is a senior and realizes this is her last opportunity to help her team win another region fast-pitch softball championship.
"I'd really like it if we could win the region championship," said the 17-year-old Rodgers last week. "I'd love it even more if we could win the state championship."
The latter might be a long shot, she admitted. Nevertheless, she wants teammates to give it all they've got between now and the end of the season.
"I think we can do well in the playoffs, because we've been showing a lot of improvement in the games we've play lately," added Rodgers, who lives on a farm near Dearing.
The Lady Buccaneers still have some important region games to play.
Rodgers, who has been the ace starting pitcher for Briarwood the last two seasons, is pleased with her overall performance this season.
"I think I have improved a lot in the last year," said Rodgers, who plans to attend Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton, Ga. following graduation. "I think I'm a lot more relaxed on the mound than I was last year."
She has aspirations of majoring in Agriculture Business and Dairy Science and someday plans to operate the family business, Hillcrest Farms with her cousin, Josh.In addition, Rodgers also is handling a lot more pressure this season.
Aside from pitching duties, she also is playing shortstop for the first time in her prep career.
"For this to be her first year playing shortstop, she's really done a good job for us," said Briarwood Head Coach Hannah Batrous. "She's done a good job for us on the mound, too."
When it comes to pressure situations, Rodgers said she loves it.
"I like playing under a lot of pressure," she said. "I think I perform better under pressure situations."
Rodgers learned a valuable lesson from her former coach, Robert Waller, who since has gotten out of coaching, but still teaches math at Briarwood.
"The only way to get better is to make yourself better," she recalled Waller telling her when she was younger. "And there's always room and time to get better."
Rodgers believes she has incorporated those ethics into her game.
"It's something I never forgot," she said. "It's really helped me, especially when I've gotten down a little on myself."
Since the seventh grade, Rodgers has played softball at the school.
"I have loved playing every year," she said. "It's a great game."