After a successful 2019 campaign the GMC Bulldogs Softball team is ready to hit the field. A trip to the conference finals and a 44-15 record will be a tough act to follow, but Coach Ashley Bunn and staff has recruited hard and is ready to see what this year's team is made of.
The Bulldogs return six players who were part of last year's success and each will play their role in getting this team back to championship form. Key to the return will be 1st team All-Region Selections, catcher Kennedy Coffey and 2nd Baseman Emily Dansby. Kennedy was in the tops in the conference in HR and slugging and will be tasked along with fellow catcher Maddie Weathers with bringing up and helping the young pitching staff work their way through the ins and outs of a full college season. Emily Dansby is the only every day starter returning on the infield this season. She will be looked upon to be the leader on the field. Kelley Bagarose will be joining Dansby on the right side of the field at first base. Laura Lee Keene returns as the lone sophomore in the circle. Due to an ankle injury she didn't see as much time in 2019, but came on strong and pitched in some key games down the stretch. Faith Jackson rounds out the returners and has made some big strides since last season and will be fighting for some playing time in right field.
When you lose seven starters your ability to recruit is highlighted and as usual Coach Bunn and staff have assembled a strong class that mixes in proven winners, with six players who have state championship runs, with talented athletes who have what it takes to make this team successful. All-State pitcher Neely Bradford brings a wealth of success at the HS level to the circle, she will be joined by HS All-Region star Beth Eddins who together will be looked at to fill the void left by the graduation of 2019 Pitcher of the year Sarah Middleton. Jessica Owens, Katie McDonald and Peyton Groves bring their winning ways to the Bulldog infield as each competed on State Champion HS teams. Brianna Painter will join them as a key piece of the 2020 Bulldogs infield. Utility players Mckenzie Graves and Caroline Hughes have opportunities to see playing time both in the infield and the outfield. Another versatile athlete is Gracie Smith. She provides depth both at first base and behind the plate and a powerful bat. All three outfield positions are up for grabs and along with Hughes, Autumn Land, Anna Grace Boutelle, Brook Aiken, and Chasney Thomas are fighting to fill those roles.
What the team lacks in experience, they make up for with their bats. Coach Bunn commented, "Our strength is our offense. We are about 6-7 deep in our lineup and the potential to be deeper is great." She added "I am excited to see how far we go as a team and what we are capable of achieving together."
After a successful season that saw the team win on the field and in player development as six Bulldogs signed NLI with four year schools; Hunter Meadows (NCAA D1, Presbyterian College), Lauren King (NCAA D1, Winthrop University). Lindsey South NCAA D2 Augusta University), Kaedy Borst (NCAA D2 Young Harris), Sarah Middleton (NCAA D2, Anderson College) Cathleen Nugue (NAIA, Allen University) the expectations are high. If history is any indication, Coach Bunn and staff will get this team ready to roll and put them in position to be successful.
The team opens their season with a scrimmage at GMC on January 20th at 1pm vs. Valdosta State.