Last week, we offered a preview of Bruton and Lafayette High School’s softball teams, along with their goals for the upcoming season. Now we wrap up our preview looking at Warhill and Jamestown, two schools both driven by legacy, in different directions.
Last year’s record: 11-9
Warhill had a good year last year, finishing as one of the strongest softball teams in the division. Of course, when you’re a year removed from two state championships, “good” doesn’t quite cut it, says coach Ken Matkins.
“Last year was a rebuilding year after back to back state titles, my first year as head coach, too, we came back strong in the second half of the year, just came a little short,” said Matkins. “We have some high expectations for this year, but this is a talented team that I think that’s more than capable of meeting them.”
Catcher Madison Richardson, the team’s only senior, provides some key leadership for the Lions, and says many of the pieces the team needs to succeed are already in place.
“We have a great group of girls here, one that, if we focus and play hard, can easily make it back to regionals or states this year,” said Richardson. “We need to work on our batting, but our defense is as strong as ever, and so is our drive, and as long as we have that, we’re a contender.”
Shortstop Taylor Nicholson has more on her plate than most players. Not only has she already committed to play for the University of Missouri as a junior, but softball is a tradition in her family, with both of her parents coaching the sport at Hampton University, and her little sister Mackenzie has joined the Warhill team this year as a freshman.
“My family is very proud, and I’m thrilled to be playing with my sister this year, and I’m even happier that the way the team is looking, she may win a championship freshman year like I did,” said Nicholson. “I think we’re a strong team, stronger than last year certainly, and we’ve added some promising new players along the way, and as long as we’re consistent, I think we’re ready for anything this year.”
First game: Warhill vs. Grafton at Grafton High, 4:30 p.m. March 13.
Last year’s record: 9-13-1
Jamestown has not traditionally been a school known for its softball team. If coach Tony Short has his way, that will change soon enough, especially if the Eagles can follow up last year’s playoff run.
“That was only the second time in school history that Jamestown made the playoffs, so I think we surprised a lot of people,” said Short. “Last year, we had a great year, and this year, we have some strong returning seniors, a solid defense, a new JV team so our younger players can get some time on the field, and we’re looking to keep surprising people moving forward.”
For pitcher Madalyn Morton, who recently committed to play for Georgia Highland College, that’s a goal she fully supports.
“Every year leading up to this year, I’ve increased strikeouts, decreased walks, and I’m hoping to see at least 100 strikeouts this year,” she said. “Last year, the team did well. We were able to work together and give it our all, and if we can just give it a bit more this year, we’ll do even better.”
Tara Rowden, who was named the Bay River District Player of the Year last year, said she plans to do her part.
“Last year was a great season for us, the team came together really well, and I would like to see us do even better this season,” said Rowden. “We still have our strong pitching, we have good flow and teamwork on the field, and the team looks stronger than I’ve ever seen them, and we’re ready to do what it takes for the team.”
For Rowden, “doing what it takes” was no small thing, since it involved surgery and changing play styles.
“I tore my labrum over the summer and had shoulder surgery in the fall, which is why I can’t play catcher this year, but we have a great new catcher, and I’ve adapted my play to first base,” said Rowden. “I love the game, I love to play, and I’ll do anything to see this team succeed, we all would.”
First game: Jamestown vs. Poquoson at Jamestown High, 4:30 p.m. March 13.
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.