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Lady Doggs end summer with victory

POSTED: June 28, 2014 12:00 p.m.

It’s all over but the relaxing for Winder-Barrow High School’s Lady Bulldoggs softball team, as head coach Monty McClure’s bunch rounded up the summer with a two-win sweep of Loganville schools Thursday evening.

Winder defeated region opponent Loganville 8-7 in the opener before blasting Loganville Christian Academy 12-1.

Although McClure was excited to see his team get their second such win over a regular season region opponent, as the Lady Doggs defeated Heritage a week earlier at Walnut Grove, he once again expressed cautious optimism in light of Loganville’s largely depleted roster.

“Loganville didn’t play any of their players, and we had a couple girls out who were travelling with travel ball,” Winder-Barrow varsity softball’s head coach Monty McClure commented. “It’s not really what we’re going to see in the regular season.”

Even without a fully realized measure of that particular competition, McClure was glad to see how his team played in the face of a tight game against a tough opponent.

“Our girls played right. They hit the ball good,” McClure stated. “It’s always good to end on a good note. I’ve been real pleased with our summer work and the girls’ approach. We’ve had what I would consider one bad day where we lost to two teams I think we should beat, but after that, they’ve been great. They’ve come to compete every game, win or lose.”

After Thursday’s games, McClure released his team for almost the entire month of July, a break that extends well beyond the mandated GHSA dead week which starts Monday.

For McClure, the time off is a pleasant gift to offer his hard-working team.

“All I ask them to do is spend time with their family and do some conditioning on their own,” McClure said. “Otherwise, they’re going to be high school kids and enjoy their summer. Most of the girls play travel softball, anyway.

“They enjoy the break and I enjoy the break.”

Winder-Barrow will get back to action with afternoon practices starting July 28 leading up to regular season tryouts on August 1.

Since so many of Winder’s Lady Doggs will keep playing softball with travel teams throughout the remainder of the quickly fading summer, McClure already expects them to be ready for the fall when they return.

While McClure counts on the month off as a period of physical rest, he knows that the young women will stay mentally ready and focused due to their participation in extra-curricular leagues.

“I think all that’s done in the winter,” McClure said of a mental vacation from softball. “To me, it’s only about the physical rest. I hope they’re still playing on their travel ball teams. Most of them are, but it’s more physical rest. 

“The summer is a time to see what we have and who can play where. Who’s competitive and who’s not. It’s an evaluation from a coaching perspective, but it also allows the girls to set up their roles personality wise,” McClure added. “It’s really good for us to get all that established before Aug. 1. It helps that you’re not dealing with that for the first three weeks of the season.”

Right now, McClure says that he and his staff are mostly prepared for the fall and have 90% of the ultimate roster settled. 

“We’ve still got a couple of things to work out. One or two positions, that’s it,” McClure elaborated.

While there is still more than a month to go before official tryouts, though, McClure will likely put no pressure on himself or his staff to complete those preparations before work resumes on July 28.

After all, this break is the last chance that McClure and his staff will have to rest, as well. 

“That break is as much for the coaches as it is for the players,” McClure said. 

When everyone comes back, though, they will need to be clicking at season form within a couple weeks. After practice starts back in late July and tryouts start off August, the first official game for the Lady Doggs will come Aug. 8 on the road.

The one bright spot is that Winder-Barrow has already faced this opponent several times during the summer, as the first game is against Walnut Grove.

“They had a few girls missing, too, but not many. We know they’re a good program. It’ll be a good challenge for us, Friday night under the lights,” McClure said. “It’ll be a great challenge for our young girls and our team.”

After Walnut Grove, the Lady Doggs will play a second non-region game against Jefferson on Aug. 11 before taking a week-long break from competition with steady practice sessions. 

Winder starts their region schedule by meeting Apalachee’s Lady Wildcats and first-year Coach Matt Allen by travelling across Hwy. 316 on Aug. 19.

Until such time as the Lady Cats and the Lady Doggs meet on the field for the first time, and before McClure’s team comes back together from their break, it will be a well-utilized time of rest.

“I start looking forward to that first game once we get back in July,” McClure admitted. “Right now I’m looking forward to getting to the beach and doing some fishing.”



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