Effingham softball team has been quite impressive. The Mustangs boast a 5-1 record and, after going 3-1 in the Tattnall Tournament in Baxley, this past weekend, head coach Samantha Tracy is excited about what’s to come.
“I am tentatively pumped about our potential,” she said. “I believe we reached some of it but I think our hitters still have more, which is good. In the Pinewood (Christian Academy) game, we won but it didn’t feel like a good win. We should have hit that girl that was pitching to us a lot better. We should have been more selective. She had a rise ball and she was slower as far as velocity.
“I am better prepared to prepare them for (Region 2-AAAAA) that I have seen them in live games.”
Despite losing seven seniors from last year’s team, there has been no drop-off in their production offensively. One name that showed up on the tournament stat sheet continuously was Caraline Stone. The junior found a way to contribute in each game.
“She stepped up and she was a team player,” Tracy said. “She did anything I asked her to do. To be honest, I hadn’t really practiced her in the outfield and she was the No. 2 catcher. She has a bat that is strong enough to be in the lineup. She did a solid job.
“It didn’t look pretty every time but she got the job done. She a battler. She knows when there are two strikes, it’s not over.”
The Mustangs opened the tournament with a 7-4 win over Appling County. Hailey Pinette, Stone and Chloe Strickland each scored twice but it was freshman pitcher Navaeh Herrod who made her presence felt the most with 52 called strikes. The freshman faced 25 batters in five innings. Although she gave up nine hits, her teammates backed her up on defense. For Tracy, that’s what it’s all about.
“My seniors and I have check-in meetings so I can get a feel for what they are liking in practice,” Tracy said. “We got on the same page and realized we needed to tighten up on defense to be able to compete with people.”
The Mustangs fell to 1-1 in the tournament after a 4-3 loss to Southeast Bulloch but took care of business against Pinewood and Emanuel County 10-0. And another freshman pitcher, Haylee Johnson, proved her youth and inexperience didn’t matter. Johnson gave up just one hit against EC, throwing nearly 90 pitches. The team had a combined 13 hits as Stone led the way with three RBI and two hits.
“She surprised herself,” Tracy said. “I knew she could give me inningsbut I didn’t know she could go against Southeast Bulloch’s big beast hitters. During her warmup I told her this would be her first high school start. You need to keep it low in the zone and make your mistakes low so that your catcher can block. I told her you have a good defense.
“If you get your job done, they got you.”