By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD — Softball coach Jane Trzaska, who led Effingham County High School to 64 wins and two region titles in three seasons, has decided to leave the program.
Trzaska, who teaches physical education, will remain throughout the school year and coach the Rebels girls lacrosse team.
“It’s definitely hard, especially (leaving) this junior class who will be seniors,” Trzaska said. “But it’s time for something different. Time for a change. I know they’re going to do great things and continue to leave a mark on this (softball) program, and I wish them nothing but the best and continued growth.”
In many ways, the 2021 softball season was Trzaska’s best. The team started 1-4 but won 17 of its next 19 games and captured a region championship as a No. 3 seed.
“It really surprised me,” said Rebels senior Enna Lackey. “Jane was a really good coach. We made the Sweet Sixteen (at state) and having just two seniors I think we really accomplished a lot. … I really respected her as a coach and was grateful to play for her in her last season.”
Trzaska came to ECHS after starring locally at Armstrong State University. She was the Peach Belt Conference’s Pitcher of the Year in 2017 before taking a job with the Rebels as an assistant under coach Johnny Coleman.
In 2019, Trzaska was elevated to head coach and led ECHS to a 25-5 record and a region championship.
“Jane’s done a phenomenal job,” Rebels athletic director Matt Huntley said. “She came in after college as an assistant and then continued a good program that was there. She brought some assets we’ll definitely miss as a program.”
Trzaska’s squad went 21-8 and advanced to the Elite Eight at state in 2020. Normally, the top eight teams go to Columbus, but, because of COVID, only four teams went that year.
During her coaching stint, she was 5-4 in head-to-head meetings with rival South Effingham. The ninth clash was memorable for the Rebels – a 2-1 win in eight innings after getting run-ruled 9-1 earlier in the season.
ECHS carried the momentum into the region tournament and avenged two regular-season losses to Glynn Academy by defeating the Red Terrors 5-1 in the region semifinals on Jennie Edinger’s eighth-inning grand slam.
The next day, the Rebels topped Richmond Hill 2-0 on Rylee Mills’ shutout in the rain.
“It showed their competitiveness and their willingness to go out and not be afraid of a challenge,” Trzaska said. “It was almost like, we’re not going to be put down. We’re going to keep fighting. It was exciting to see. I’m going to miss that.”