With each passing year, the Bulloch Academy softball team sees old faces replaces by new ones. The only thing that never changes are the expectations.
“We want to win,” BA coach Chandler Dennard said. “We want to win and we expect to win every year. We’ll always strive to be at the top of our region and to contend for a state title.”
Dennard’s Lady Gators have certainly lived up to his high standards.
In three years since moving to the highest classification of GISA, Bulloch has racked up a pair of region titles and advanced to last year’s state semifinals.
The goals remain unchanged in 2013, but the Gators’ style might be a bit different.
“For the last seven years, we’ve had strong pitching and one of the fastest teams in the state,” Dennard said. “I still like those aspects of our game, but now we have a little more going for us offensively.”
While the Gators’ bats get into the swing of things early in the season, senior pitcher Madelyn Vickery will look to provide a steady presence on the mound. Vickery is a veteran pitcher who has performed well in region and postseason play in the past. Another stellar season seems likely as she’ll set the tone for the Gators in big games this year.
Joining Vickery will be fellow veterans Ashley Lanier, Paige Spence, Haley Mock, Ashley Burke and Powell Fennell — giving Bulloch the same five hitters that led off its batting order and provided solid defense for much of last year.
The Gators might depend on more offense to claim victories this season, but the transition shouldn’t be a tough one as it comes from necessity rather than choice.
“College programs try to stick to their style and recruit for it,” Dennard said. “At the high school level, you have to use the abilities of the team you have, and that can change every year. I know we’ve played a lot of small ball before, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like seeing the ball go over the fence.”
BA hosts charity tournament
The only thing better than starting off the season with a bang is doing it for a great cause.
Bulloch Academy did both Friday and Saturday as the Lady Gators hosted the second annual Miriam Burnette Memorial ‘Striking Out Alzheimer’s’ tournament. Originally the ‘Bulloch Bash’ Bulloch Academy changed its annual tournament last year to become a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s awareness.
The event featured 12 teams from all over Georgia. The five top-ranked teams in Class AAA of GISA — Bulloch Academy included — were in attendance, drawing interest from several area colleges and universities.
“That’s a great perk of having so many good teams and players at this tournament,” Dennard said. “It’s great to get these girls some exposure and be able to host a tournament with a high level of competition.”
Of course, the spirit of the event went far beyond the wins and losses for each team.
The tournament raised over $17,000 for its cause. Darron Burnette – son of the tournament’s namesake and Sea Island Bank president and CEO – thanked all teams and supporters. Individual donations to the cause can also be made at any Sea Island location.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.