The high school softball season couldn’t start any better. Effingham County visits rival South Effingham at 7 p.m. Friday to kick off the 2007 campaign for both schools.
The Lady Mustangs swept the series last year, defeating Effingham County 17-1 and 2-0.
SEHS coach Donnie Ussery, whose team begins the year ranked third among Class AAA teams, wants to make it three in a row over intracounty rival Effingham but understands it will be difficult.
“We are going to have a difficult challenge ahead of us. This county has produced some great softball players that have attended both schools,” he said. “We have had some extremely good games the last few years and have had our hands full with them. They are well coached and have very talented players. We have to play a flawless game to beat them.”
Ussery also said they must be careful on how they pitch to Lady Rebel catcher Marie Fogle.
“She is very talented and we have to pick our spots with her,” Ussery said. “She can do a lot of damage with one swing at the plate.”
Over the past three years, South Effingham has been the better team, winning five of the last six games.
ECHS coach Tesh Pace understands that it will be difficult to overtake the Lady Mustangs.
“We need to come out ready to play against South,” she said. “They are a very good team, and if we don’t start off strong, they will get a good jump on us.”
Both teams looked impressive in their pre-season scrimmages.
Effingham pounded 11 hits in a 4-0 win over Calvary Day, while South allowed only two hits to Savannah Christian in a 4-1 win.
“The girls have just been working on seeing the ball and hitting it,” Pace said. “We are hoping to just be able to see the ball and make the necessary adjustments to make contact.”
Shelby Duff likely will start for the Lady Rebels on the mound. Allison Kirkland and Sally Faircloth will pitch for the Mustangs, and Ussery said he is leaning toward starting Kirkland.
Both coaches are impressed with the opposing pitchers.
“Shelby is a real talented pitcher,” Ussery said. “We haven’t faced her. We faced Meagan (Smith) the last few years and Shelby has a different approach than Meagan.”
Both teams have high hopes for the season and want to start 2007 with a win.
“Having a win to lead off the year is always great,” Pace said. “We just need to focus and prepare for one game at a time and with South being our first game, we are trying to get ready for them.”
Said Ussery: “You always want to start the season on a high note and there’s nothing better than a W. It doesn’t matter how you get it. We had a 17-1 win against them last year, and it catapulted our season.”