Lady Chargers look to ‘move further’

Published 12:23 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The aspirations of the 2018 Central High School varsity softball team mirrors those of the school’s varsity baseball team. The 2017 Lady Chargers, like the 2017 baseball squad, were in the regional tournament and fell short of qualifying for state competition. “We plan to return to the regionals and win the regional finals so we can move into state tournament play,” Central Head Coach Karen McGrath said Tuesday morning. “Last year, we peaked at the right time and lost in the regional semifinals. This year, we plan to move further.” Central’s fourthseeded softball squad fell in a lopsided regional semifinal game to surging No. 8 Luray High School and finished with a 15-8 record. The 2018 Lady Chargers carried a 1-1 record into Tuesday’s scheduled home game against Randolph-Henry High School. “We have improved with each practice and game,” McGrath said. “Our defense is strong and our offense is quickly improving. Our goal is to continue to put pressure on our opponents’ defenses.” Central lost three of its 2017 starters due to graduation, but this year’s squad features seasoned players. The roster includes six juniors, three seniors, one sophomore and one freshman. A key returner is senior pitcher Hailey Bayne, playing in her fourth and final year on the varsity team. “Her velocity makes it difficult for our opponents’ offenses,” Mc- Grath said. “So far this season in two games, she has 24 strikeouts.” The coach noted that sophomore Sorie Scott will also see time in the circle. “She is very consistent and pulled through for us last year,” Mc- Grath said. “Last year, she was our starting shortstop and will also see time in the catching position as well.” McGrath expects all of her players in the lineup to contribute offensively. She said freshman Aaliyah Alexander is in the leadoff spot due to her speed, senior Kaylee Williams and Scott have consistent bats, as do cleanup hitter Emma Hart, a junior. Bayne and senior second baseman Brittany Tomlinson also have stepped up offensively. Among the expected key contributors on defense are Williams, in center field, junior Samantha Bishop, in left field, and Alexander, in right field. “Our team is small, (with) 11 players, but everyone we (have) will be able to contribute to the success of our team this year,” McGrath said. “Everyone works well together. There is great chemistry on our team.” Central hosts Prince Edward County High School on Thursday at 5 p.m.