View the preseason video interview here
BARNESVILLE, GA -- With a 20 game fall season and a much-needed holiday break in the books, the Softball Highlanders have set their sights on the 2018 season. The fall schedule included scrimmages against several NCAA D1, D2, D3, and NAIA programs, and was highlighted by a trip to Athens for a Friday night scrimmage with the Bulldogs of the University of Georgia. "It was a productive fall," according to Head Coach Ally Hattermann. "We had a lot to figure out with 16 new faces in our dugout. But, we feel good about our progress. A couple of key things we learned is that our players are determined, they love to compete and we are nowhere near our potential…and that's exciting," added Hattermann.
The Highlander Softball Team will kick off their 2018 season with three consecutive weeks on the road, competing in NJCAA tournament play. The upcoming events start with The Gulf Coast Invitational in Panama City, Florida, followed by The Chipola College "Visit Dothan" Invitational in Dothan, Alabama, and wrapping up with the Sun Chief Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The softball highlanders have been dealt a challenging schedule in tournament play including several games against NJCAA preseason nationally ranked opponents.
After tournament play concludes, the team will immediately transition into GCAA (Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association) regional play the following week. The GCAA consist of eight teams all of which are from Georgia. In years past, the top six teams within the region have advanced to the regional championship in which the winner qualifies for the NJCAA National Championship played in St. George, Utah. However, beginning this season, that number has been reduced to the top four, making advancement much more challenging. "This season will be a challenge, to say the least," according to Associate Head Coach Ken Deyton. "We will get a chance to see how we stack up nationally during tournament play, but it will be great preparation for what we know will be a tough region schedule. Every team in the region is talented and well coached. Being one of the final four will require consistency, and an 'off day' on the field will be costly," Deyton added.
What's the plan to the final four? It's no secret it will require contributions from the entire roster. However, the Highlander's coaching staff will depend heavily on the experience and leadership of the returning sophomores. "This is a solid sophomore class. They all had successful freshman seasons which played a big role in our post-season run last year. We're confident that this experience will be a guiding factor this year," added Hattermann.
The Highlander's boast a strong pitching staff led by sophomore, Maddie Greene (Brookwood High School, Georgia). Greene had an impressive freshman season where she finished in the top three of the region in strike outs and earned herself a spot on the All-Tournament Team at the NJCAA Region XVII Championship. "Last season Maddie learned how not only to pitch at the college level, but also how to succeed at it. She's continued to work hard and progress, and we think she has a great season ahead of her this year," said Coach Hattermann".
New faces in the circle include freshman Natalie Hardy (South Paulding High School, Georgia), freshman Maddie Green (Loganville High School, Georgia), and transfer sophomore Savannah Chalfant (Cardington-Lincoln High School, Ohio.) "We are excited about our pitching staff. All four pitchers bring different qualities and their pitching styles will complement each other," according to Hattermann. "And yes, you are reading this right – we have two pitchers with the same name, with an exception of an "e" on the last name."
There are many new faces around the Highlander infield in 2018. Actually, they are all new apart from sophomore McKenzie Barnes (Jones County High School, Georgia). Barnes had a solid freshman season, especially with her bat. According to the coaches she was "clutch; she hit when we needed it most," which proved true at the NJCAA Region XVII Championship where she had the game winning single in the Highlanders win over the #1 seeded team in the event. She also earned herself a spot on the NJCAA Region XVII All-Tournament Team. "As a freshman 'Mac' hit her way into the lineup. She's a tough out and takes a lot of pride in hitting. We fully expect her to have a great year," said Deyton.
Rounding out the infield is freshman Hannah Rae Griffin (Stratford Academy, Georgia), freshman Cheyanne Mosteller (Jones County High School, Georgia), freshman Addy Allegretti (Heritage High School, Georgia), freshman Breanna Lee (Pike County High School, Georgia) and freshman Kelly Bostwick (Grayson High School, Georgia). "This is one of the deepest and most talented infields I've ever coached," said Deyton. "They're athletic, tough, and simply make the plays. They are going to be fun to watch this season," Deyton added."
Returning sophomore Lauren Deloach (Northgate High School, Georgia) is the universal player on the team. As a freshman, Lauren played multiple positions both in the infield and outfield for the highlanders, and played them great, stated the coaching staff. "It's rare to get a player that can not only play multiple positions, but play them at a high level. Deloach is one of those players," said Deyton.
"Players in the grass," otherwise known as outfielders, include returning sophomore Shelby Sims (Mary Persons High School, Georgia) and sophomore Morgan Sterrett (Calvary Day School, Georgia). Sims is coming off a stellar freshman season where she earned a spot on the GCAA All-Region Team, and finished the season in the top 10 of all hitting categories. "Sims has made big time improvements as an outfielder and should be a regular face in the middle of our lineup this season," said Assistant Coach Freddie Glass. Sterrett returns to right field for the Highlanders where she spent most of her time as a freshman. "Sterrett has possibly made one of the biggest single season improvements I've ever seen, improving her arm, her speed, and knowledge of her position. We expect her to have a special 2018 season," added Glass.
New faces in the Highlander's outfield include freshman Alyssa Orona (Stratford Academy, Georgia), freshman Brooke Tyson (Mill Creek High School, Georgia), transfer sophomore Montana Schug (Upson Lee High School, Georgia), freshman Taylor Dykes (Bleckley County High School, Georgia), and freshman Katie Reed (Sprayberry High School, Georgia). "For the 2018 season, we are deep in the outfield. These ladies are athletic, committed, and competitive. Further, they have all demonstrated that they can handle the bat. With their combined talents and Dykes and Orona back in the mix after sidelining injuries last fall, we fully expect our outfield's performance to play a big, contributing role in our success this season," said Glass. "
And last but certainly not least, the Highlanders will have three new faces behind the dish for 2018: freshman Hannah Coulter (Bleckley County High School, Georgia), freshman Lauren Hawkins (Winder Barrow High School, Georgia), and freshman Hunter Lee (Pike County High School, Georgia.) "These three have done nothing but progress and improve since arriving last fall. They work hard--really hard--and take a lot of pride in the position. We are fortunate to have this talent behind the plate," said Deyton.
The 2018 Gordon State College Highlanders softball team schedule as well as ongoing team updates, can be found at www.gscathletics.com. All home games are played on the Gordon State College Campus at 419 College Drive, Barnesville, GA 30204.