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Lady Blue Devils veterans try to turn it around

    There’s no easy way to say it. The 2010 season was a rough one for Statesboro softball.
    After finding themselves in a region packed with perennial state title contenders, the outmatched Lady Blue Devils stumbled to an 0-19 season, but a new season brings new hope as the 2011 edition of the SHS squad is determined to prove that their darkest days are behind them.
    “We have a bunch of girls that are ready to get out there and play ball,” said SHS assistant coach Liz Jackson. “I think everyone is confident that we can get some wins and play better.”
    The return of veteran and experienced players will be vital to the Blue Devils’ success as returning starters can be found all over the field.
    Kyera Whitaker will manage the pitching staff from behind the plate while Lauren Hadden returns as Statesboro’s most experienced pitcher. Four-sport star Alisia Jenkins is slated to patrol center field and Sarah Brown enters her junior season as the starting shortstop and a versatile offensive threat that can find her way on base at the top of the order or drive in runs from the middle of the lineup.
    Statesboro will try to get its season off to the right start Monday as it hosts Portal — which defeated the Devils in the only meeting between the schools last season.
    While Portal had more success in the win column last season, the Panthers were decimated by the departure of a large senior class and are also breaking in a new head coach.
    The Panthers should still be a solid team this season, but the Devils are sensing an opening in which they can get their season off to a good start.
    “We know that we’re in a tough region again and that no wins will come easy,” said Jackson. “We want to take each game as it comes, so what we’re focused on right now is getting a win versus Portal and starting off 1-0.”

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.