Warner Robins finished 3-17 this past year, 0-8 in Region 1-AAAAAA, but what defined the Demonettes, per Head Coach Rebecca White, was not in the numbers.
“I told the girls the other day,” she said – now heading into her fourth year as skipper. “The biggest compliment I got at the region meeting (from other coaches) was that they saw a difference. We improved. We never gave up. Whether we lost by 15 runs or one run.
“They saw the heart on the field. And that’s the one thing you cannot teach and you cannot coach. And I wish more people would see that from our girls. They’re working hard day in and day out and they’re getting better each day and our competitors are seeing that.”
The heart is there. Changing the numbers is going to fall upon some “key” players and some “young” players.
In regard to the first, Senior Janaylah West is pretty much at the top of the list. She plays shortstop and pitches.
“Really, she can play anywhere on the field and has the opportunity to go to the next level. I always tell her if she’s going to get in trouble, it’s going to be because of her arm. Because her arm is really strong.”
A close second – or maybe side-by-side is a better term – is Kennedy Thomas. While only a rising sophomore, she played third last year and, White said, will play shortstop when Thomas is pitching.
“Those two are key defensively,” she said. “While Janaylah will be a key offensively as well.”
Add in the mix Hilary Haynes, another rising sophomore. “She has done a really good job with her bat,” White said.
All told, the Demonettes are a mix of “seven or eight” returners – five who were starters – who range in grade from junior varsity to seniors to the “other half of us (being) 11 new ballplayers.”
The expectations, White said, is certainly more wins – bigger wins – but again, see the lifeblood of the body.
“When I took over the program,” she said, “I felt like it had lost the heart it had when I first played here. I’m slowly seeing it come back and I tell the girls if you keep fighting, one day the door’s going to open and teams are going to be scared to play you.
“I do think we’re going to be more competitive this year because we’re going to fight. And we’re going to fight for seven innings and that one slip the other team is going to make is going to put us ahead.”
Earlier, she said: “We use a motto here. It’s not the mistake you make, but it’s what you do after the mistake that determines your success. You may miss a ball in the outfield, but you can make up for that with a throw to home that’ll get somebody out.
“It’s the same way in life. You make a mistake, you either take it and build (from/on) it, or you fold over.”
Note: The above interview was provided by SportsMic Broadcaster Brenda Arnett. Arnett has 28 years of coaching experience (softball at Warner Robins High School) and will be bringing you all the play-by-play this season on our app/website. Warner Robins begins its year Aug. 5 at Peach County (first pitch – 5 p.m.). Next is Northside, at home, Aug. 9 (first pitch – 6 p.m.).