Aug. 6 — Islands, 6 p.m.
Aug. 8 — Richmond Hill, 6 p.m.
Aug. 9-10 — Tattnall County tournament, TBD
Aug. 14 — at Effingham County, 6 p.m.
Aug. 15* — at Statesboro, 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 — Cornhole fundraiser, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Aug. 20* — Ware County, 6 p.m.
Aug. 22* — New Hampstead, 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Aug. 23-24 — Allatoona tournament, TBD
Aug. 29* — at Wayne County, 6 p.m.
Sept. 4 — at Richmond Hill, 6 p.m.
Sept. 5* — Statesboro, 6 p.m.
Sept. 10 — at Ware County, 6 p.m.
Sept. 13-14 — Gordon Lee tournament, TBD
Sept. 16 — Effingham County, 6 p.m.
Sept. 19 — Wayne County, 6 p.m.
Sept. 15-26 — Region 2-AAAAA playoffs
Sept. 30 — vs. Effingham County at Josh Reddick Field
Oct. 2-3 — Region 2-AAAAA playoffs
* — Region 2-AAAAA game
GUYTON — A large group of underclassmen has been thrust to the forefront of the South Effingham softball team.
A considerable lack of experience will be a huge test for the Mustangs, who enjoy a winning tradition.
First-year head coach Samantha Tracy likes what whe has seen so far — a gritty squad. She has worked with her players all summer to build mental toughness, a key characteristic that will be paramount in its rugged slate of games.
“I have a bunch of scrappy young players,” Tracy said. “I have seen some great things out of all my young kids.”
South Effingham opens the season Tuesday at home against The Islands. In that game, fans will be introduced to pitcher Nevaeh Herrod, who’s work ethic, willingness to learn and stats helped her earn the starting job.
“It looks like Nevaeh Herrod is the leader right now as far as strike percentage,” Tracy said. “Haylee Johnson and Haleigh Maruca will battle it out for the reliever position. Nevaeh is so receptive and so coachable. I have worked with her for a while before I had this job because I gave pitching lessons.
“I feel like I can say what I need to say to her and she is receptive in a way that makes her better. If I tell her she is leaving it over the plate or her pitch is flat, she is not sulking. She knows that I am helping her.
“She’s smart, well-spoken and she knows what she is doing in the circle.”
Key losses for the Mustangs include star pitcher Kastin Belogorska, Rachel Mixon and Cheyenne Miller. Yet this year’s team still has powerful hitters Alex Brown and Hailey Pinette, and Tracy has been enjoying the play of rising sophomore Chloe Turner.
“Chloe Turner has really impressed me,” Tracy said. “She is able to bunt or smack the ball by the fence or lay it down over the plate. Her potential looks good this year.
“Ashleigh Woods is probably locked in on the catching position. She has been here all summer. She is coachable and she works her butt off. As far as work ethic, I feel like if she were tostruggle, we could fix it.
“Chloe Strickland is a solid bunter and exciting base runner. When she gets on base, she is testing my defense in practice and I love it.”
For Tracy, coming into a program that is dedicated to the game and enjoys community support is a luxury. She is looking forward to the season.
“I am most excited about getting into a situation that has some tradition and support, and family backing,” Tracy said. “Most recently, I didn’t have a lot of that. This is a lot different.
“This gives me state championship kind of vibes.”