The Briarwood Academy junior varsity softball team ended their 2005 season last week with a 15-2 record and having averaged 16 runs per game.
"They've done great," Coach Wayne Wilson said. "We have much better athletes than the other teams we've played, even the one that beat us. They are a committed group of young ladies, and these young ladies do not mind hard work."
Briarwood's Lizzie Keen gets ready to sprint home from third base.
The JV girls' two losses were both to long-time undefeated AAA John Milledge Academy of Milledgeville, whose pitchers are coached by nearby Georgia State College and University pitching coaches. John Milledge will soon lose that advantage to the JV Lady Bucs' pitchers who are taking pitching lessons from the Augusta State University softball coach.
"I can teach them to slide and throw and hit the ball, but I can't teach them to throw underhanded softballs like they do now," Coach Wilson said, adding, "I've got parents who are committed to their kids and their kids playing softball, and they're getting them here on Sunday afternoons (for the coaching and pitching sessions). That means a lot."
The eighth grade laden JV squad is sending some extremely talented players to the varsity next year, according to Coach Wilson. Catcher Erin Wester is not only an experienced, skilled catcher; she is also the Lady Bucs' main power hitter and batted clean up for the squad.
Right fielder Lizzie Keen is fast on her feet and with her glove.
"She will run the ball down and catch it over her shoulder - all on a run," Coach Wilson said.
Gerry Hall pitches and plays second base.
Rachel Coxwell slides in safely at home during a recent game.
"She can throw harder than anybody we have," Coach Wilson said. "It's just a matter of gaining more experience, and she will be an awesome pitcher."
Taylor Stitcher is the Lady Bucs' number one pitcher with all 15 of the squad's wins to her credit. She plays second base when she isn't on the mound.
Playing in left field, Brittney Phelps became an integral part of the team very quickly.
"She had never played softball before this year, and now she plays like a seasoned veteran," Coach Wilson said. "She picked it up fast."
Erin Phelps handled duties at first base for the JV Lady Bucs and quickly became one of the team's most solid, dependable hitters, homering against John Milledge Academy.
Some of the squad's four seventh graders may be pulled up to the varsity next year to play for the Lady Bucs, Coach Wilson said.
Shortstop Hannah Wilson and third basemen Maria Celeste Johnson are two of the top defensive players on the team. They're also two of the team's fastest players. Wilson leads the team in stolen bases, followed closely by Johnson. Wilson is the leadoff batter for the team. Johnson bats second and is a "fundamentally sound" player for the Lady Bucs.
Centerfielder Emily Henderson is another fast outfielder with the ability to run the ball down and catch it from most anywhere, according to Coach Wilson.
Henderson along with right fielder Keen are the best bunters on the team, according to Coach Wilson, "because they have such good speed."
Right fielder Savannah Carani, who is "always willing to do extra work to make herself better, is one of the most improved players on the team, improving enough this season to earn a starting position.
The team's sixth graders gained some valuable playing time. Centerfielder Chris Dawson, left fielder Shannon Newsome, centerfielder Rachel Coxwell and right fielder Kayla Boatright "have a great attitude and worked hard to get better," according to Coach Wilson.