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Lady Bucs wrap up season with honors

The Briarwood Academy Lady Bucs ended their first season in fast pitch softball in the state semi-finals and landed three players on the GISA 1AA All Region team.

bucs_senior_wills.jpg

Anne Wills

Seniors Ashley Pickard and Anne Wills and junior Beth Gerlach were named to the 1AA All Region squad by the Region 1AA coaches.

The selection is doubly impressive because it's the Lady Bucs first year in fast pitch softball, which most of the other teams have been playing for four years, according to Coach Robert Waller.

Coach Waller has coached all three of the players since the sixth grade and feels the three made a difficult transition with ease.

Senior Ashley Pickard "was sound at first base all year," said Coach Waller.

"She's got a great arm, and she's really fast running bases," he said. "Ashley was one of the most powerful hitters in GISA slow pitch, and she had to adjust her swing to fast pitch."

Senior Anne Wills, who played shortstop, could always be counted on to come up with the ball or a hit when it was needed, according to Coach Waller.

"The tougher the game, the better Anne played," he said. "She was money in the bank."

Junior Beth Gerlach, "the best slow pitcher in the GISA last year, moved to third base, which is really a difficult transition.

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Cassie Whitaker

"She just stepped up and got better every week," Coach Waller said.

One of the Lady Bucs most powerful hitters, Gerlach had the only out-of-the-park homerun this past season.

Once again, the Lady Bucs played bridesmaid to Pinewood Christian School of Bellville as the Lady Bucs lost two of three games and were knocked out of the GISA AA state fast pitch softball tournament recently by the eventual state champions.

"I wouldn't take anything for Pinewood being state champion," Coach Waller said of the team the Lady Bucs ended up as runners-up to in the state slow pitch championships for the past two years. "All of those fast pitch coaches kept claiming that slow pitch couldn't stand up to fast pitch, but he showed them."

The Lady Bucs showed them, too.

"We handed Pinewood their only defeat of the state tournament," Coach Waller said. "We beat them once. We had them beat another time, and then we just plain lost."

bucs_senior_Ansley.jpg

Blythe Ansley

The Lady Bucs opened the double elimination semi-finals by losing to Pinewood 5-4 late in the first game. They came back to defeat Flint River Academy, 12-2, and then Fullington Academy, 10-1. They defeated Pinewood 7-4 in the fourth game and then lost to Pinewood 7-0 in the tiebreaker to end their chances for the state title.

"I feel like except for a little bit more concentration and a little bit better job of coaching, we would have been in the final four, but I can't feel too bad because our losses were to the eventual state champion, and we were the only team to beat them," Coach Waller said.

Led by their three seniors --Wills, Pickard and Blythe Ansley -- the Lady Bucs finished their first season in fast pitch softball with an overall record of 16-9; three of those losses were to Pinewood.

"We played in the toughest region in the state. The playoffs proved that," Coach Waller said. "We had to play hard every week. That helped us a lot in the playoffs because we were used to tight, close ball games."

The seniors made the transition well, according to Coach Waller.

"They've all been playing since the sixth grade, and they were all excellent slow pitch players for six years, and then their senior year they had to switch to fast pitch, which is a difficult task, especially offensively.

bucs_senior1.jpg

Ashley Pickard

"They adapted very well to the hitting and the bunts and the base running," he continued. "All of them have exceptional speed, good arms and all are good fielders. They will be sorely missed next year both on the field and in our hearts."

The Bucs will have to replace Ansley in the outfield, Pickard at first base and Wills at shortstop, but have a good core of players returning, according to Coach Waller.

Ansley was "the fastest person" on the Lady Bucs squad, according to Coach Waller.

"She has a great arm and can ran down fly balls no one else could even dream of catching," he said. "She was not thrown out once stealing this year."

Ansley also doubled as catcher for the Lady Bucs.

All three of the Lady Bucs pitchers -- Caitlin Rogers, Sara Nutial and Samantha Jenkins -- are returning as well catcher Liz Grant.

"We're got some really good prospects in the ninth grade. I'm looking forward to an even better year in our second season in fast pitch," Coach Waller said.



Web posted on Thursday, October 28, 2004


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