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Lady Doggs grow by bounds in wins

POSTED: June 21, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Carlee Thurmond and Cathleen Nugue discuss strategy before a game at Walnut Grove earlier in the summer season. Thurmond adopted the role of team leadership as one of the few upperclassmen on the team.

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The Winder-Barrow Lady Bulldoggs softball team continued summer practices with yet another successful trip to Walnut Grove Thursday evening, as they defeated Athens Christian in a solid set 10-5 and trounced region opponent Heritage from the word go 11-0.

Despite the big win over a fellow Region 8-AAAAA team, head Lady Doggs varsity softball coach Monty McClure is hesitant to read too much into Thursday’s win.

“They were missing some players. Girls play travel ball in the summer, and we were missing three starters as well, so it’s not really indicative of what it’ll be like in the region schedule,” McClure stated. 

Heritage came into Thursday’s game without their best pitcher, who was away for travel ball. The Lady Patriots come into the 2014 season without All-Region star and 2013 Player of the Year Kierra Camp who was one of the best pitchers in the state. 

“She’s already gone, thank goodness,” McClure laughed when referencing Camp.

Camp finished 2013 with a 0.52 ERA and batted a .404 average at the plate, so Heritage will have a hard time replacing the Georgia Southern freshman, although they seem poised to do it with the new batch of stars.

Still, despite playing a weakened Heritage team, the Lady Doggs are taking opportunities on the road to grow and gel in a way that McClure is glad to see.

“I’ve been real pleased with how they’ve worked this summer,” McClure said. “We’ve had great leadership this summer. Carlee [Thurmond]’s done a great job.”

Even playing depleted teams, McClure knows that summer ball has a valuable place in any team’s training.

“Just getting at bats and hitting in situations that come up in a game. You still have base running, you still have to play a game,” McClure stated. “Our girls played hard and did a good job playing things the right way.”

Earlier in the offseason, after one of Winder-Barrow’s earliest summer games, McClure pointed out his disappointment in the team’s lack of enthusiasm and less than ideal attitudes regarding the workout. Since then, though, the Lady Doggs have added three wins and a tie in four games and earned their coach’s approval.

“We have seven or eight freshmen or sophomores. It’s going to happen, but we don’t want it to be a habit,” McClure posited. “That’s why we play summer ball, so we can go ahead and work some of those kinks out.

“We may not be as good as every team we play, but we’re going to compete every time we’re out there. Whether it’s a region game, a non-region game, so they’ve responded real well.”

All is not perfect, though, as McClure referenced Winder-Barrow’s excessive errors against Athens Christian Academy on Thursday. Still, McClure can accept the occasional errors as long as the attitude is right and the team knows that they can work on eliminating those errors.

“We overcame [the errors] and we did well,” McClure stated.

After this next week with a varsity game at Madison County on Monday and two varsity games at Loganville on Thursday, the Lady Doggs will observe the GHSA mandated Dead Week and take the month of July off altogether.

Or at least they will take the month of July off from Winder-Barrow softball. As McClure again pointed out, most of the team is still going to be involved with the sport one way or another.

“About 90% of our girls play travel ball, so they’re really only getting a break from us. I think they need that extra time off,” McClure noted. “They need the time mentally to be students and rest and heal. Some of our girls are banged up.

“Hopefully when they come back to us in July they’ll be ready to go,” McClure added. “Hopefully they’ll be rested, ready to go, no excuses and ready to challenge some people.”

So if the team has to keep playing in one capacity or another, what is the real value in the time off? To McClure, the real value is for the coaching staff.

“We need some time off, too,” McClure stated.

In the remaining three varsity games, though, McClure still has some lingering goals that he hopes to work out.

“I hope to finalize my line-up, or at least have a really good idea of where everybody’s going to be and what roles people can have, and possibly figure out who to bring up and who to send down,” McClure explained. “We’re just going to be evaluating them overall.”

After a summer of preparation and a month away from varsity softball, McClure and his Lady Doggs will be back on the field and ready to take on Region 8-AAAAA, one of the best regions in the state for softball. 

“I look forward to the season,” McClure said. “I’m anxious to see what we can do. I’m a little nervous about having all the young girls, but we’ll see how they perform. They like to compete and they all want to be good, which is important.

“We’re just trying to get that team unity, which is one of the most important things. We’re trying to get that down,” McClure added. “I just want to see how they do.”



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