Bulloch Academy first year head coach Nikki Perkins really hit the ground running last season. Despite losing five senior and four starters from the previous year Perkins led the Gators to a 15-4-1 record and a trip to the GISA Class 3-A state Final 4 before being knocked out by eventual state champ Westfield..
To repeat that kind of success will take another impressive performance from the coaching staff and players as the Gators lost four starters once again.
“We are really counting on senior Kacie Ricketts for leadership,” said Perkins. “She is a four-year starter and one of our most dependable bats on offense and helps anchor our defense as well.”
Most softball teams can only be as successful as their pitching staff. In that regard the Gators are in a pretty good spot. Last year’s ace junior Sydney Priest returns as well as McKenna Furnari who played in quite a few games last season as an eighth grader.
“We feel our biggest strength is our pitching staff,” said Perkins. “We have Sydney back for her junior year and a couple of youngsters who are capable of backing her up. McKenna Furnari showed a lot of promise last year as an eighth grader and we also have another eighth grader who will be in the mix with Maralyne Belcher. Each one of those girls brings a different look so we plan on implementing all three to keep teams off guard.”
While the pitching staff may be the biggest strength one area Perkins is a little concerned about is the Gators lack of experience.
“I feel like we have talent, but we will be counting on some young girls this year,” said Perkins. “We are such a young team, and the girls are still trying to get to know each other on and off the field. We have eight freshmen and a couple sophomores so more than half our team are underclassmen. Hopefully we can get some games under our belt to see what we have.”
The Gators play in a pretty competitive region and Perkins has tried to schedule some tough opponents to help get the team ready.
“We open the season next week against last year’s Class-AA state champions in Piedmont Academy,” said Perkins. “We have really tried to schedule some tough non-region games against teams like Brantley County, Camden County and South Georgia Academy should help us get ready for our region.”
The Gators open things up at Piedmont August 2 for a doubleheader starting at 4:00. The Gators home opener will be August 12 against Portal.