“I feel like our team as a whole is better. The pitching’s going to be better. The defense is going to be better. And I feel like the offense is going to be better.
“I think once we figure out our best nine, where they’re going to play, I would say two to three weeks into the season we should be rocking and rolling.
“I can see this team easily competing with West Laurens for the (region) championship. Not underestimating anybody in the region but just based on what we’ve got coming back, what they’ve lost. I know West Laurens. I don’t’ know if they ever lose anybody. I think they’re always strong but I feel like we can put some pressure on them, like we did a couple of years ago. And then you want to be that one or two (seed) going into state playoffs to help your draw a little bit.”
That is the confidence – not “over-confidence as “not underestimating …” clearly shows – of Perry High School fast-pitch Head Coach Kyle Davis.
Beyond the “general” assessment above, he has a number of “specific” reasons to feel that way. (The Lady Panthers finished 16-11 last year and were eliminated by Thomas County Central – in three – in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament.)
One, for the fifth-year coach, is AliRae Dykes. She, at catcher, is a four-year starter. “Kind of almost like taking her for granted,” said Davis, “having someone behind the plate that just knows the game. Getting comfortable. Can control the bases. Really good stick.
“I’d say she probably had a little bit of a down year as a junior compared to her sophomore year, but her sophomore year she hit like .400 with 70 RBIs. I mean you’re not going to do that every year, so a down year in our eyes, but still a good year. She’s going to come out this year as a senior and really help us out on offense and defense.”
Another “big one”, Davis continued, is Ashley Moon. She, he said, is another senior who has pitched “here and there” for the club over the course of the past couple of years, but did a “really great job since last year.
“(She’s been) putting in a lot of hard work. So far she’s really done good in our summer scrimmages, so she could very well be our number one pitcher this year and kind of take some relief off Reagan Hughes who’s kind of been the workhorse for us the past three years.”
If there is maybe a concern, it’s the outfield. Davis said he felt like last year’s outfield was one of the best in AAAA. All three graduated. Thus he’s: “kind of hoping somebody steps up.”
Having said that, he also said he felt he had the best rising freshman class coming in “as a whole since my senior group. We have one already starting in scrimmages and two others in the mix, so we could have three starting before the season’s over. That’s always good to get some that’s coming in as freshman that can contribute on the varsity level.”
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. Perry begins its season Aug. 10, at home against Dodge County (first pitch: 4:30 p.m.).