There are a couple of transitions with the Effingham County High School softball team this season.
First, there’s a new head coach, as Matt Huntley takes over for Tesh Pace. Second, the Lady Rebels, who host Groves in a scrimmage tonight at 6, are moving into a new lockerroom facility. The lockers the girls will be hanging their hat — and cleats and uniforms — were built by the same company that built the Savannah Sand Gnats lockers.
“The new lockerroom facility has been a great addition,” Huntley said. “The girls are excited about it. They have worked hard the past five, six years for the lockerroom and they have earned the right to call this their own. We hope they’ll be proud of what they’ve got and let other teams see what they’ve worked so hard to get.”
It’s been an easy transition for Huntley, who was an assistant under Pace. Having that connection with the team has been a plus, he said.
“They know exactly what I expect out of them, the work ethic we expect,” he said. “It’s been a pretty smooth transition. I inherited a pretty good group of girls. We are looking for high expectations.”
The Lady Rebels lost only one senior off last year’s team that went 23-7 and ended the campaign with two one-run losses in the state sectionals. But Marie Fogle was a key component of the Lady Rebels’ success.
Huntley has a quartet of seniors, however, to rely on who have been integral to the team in their careers — pitcher/shortstop Shelby Duff, third baseman Kayla English, outfielder Kristian Page and first baseman/pitcher Tabatha Douberly.
“Our senior class is going to be pretty strong this year,” he said. “Shelby Duff is going to be a good leader. All of our senior class has stepped up in practice. They have all stepped into a leadership role and gone with that.”
With the number of returnees, Huntley and the Lady Rebels have their sights set high and he’s letting the players determine just how high they want to shoot.
“I think it’s important for them to set their own goals and to be able to accomplish what they set,” he said. “We’ll stick our hand in there for guidance when we need to.”