The Statesboro Blue Devil softball team was one win away from advancing to the state quarterfinals last year, but saw Locust Grove come from behind to end the Blue Devils' season in the third and decisive game of a best of three series.
There is good news and bad for this year’s Blue Devil squad. The bad news is that Statesboro loses its entire outfield. The good news is Statesboro returns its entire infield, as well as All-Region pitcher Brinson Anne Rogers. The Devils also have a host of talented players vying for the newly-opened outfield positions.
“We are excited about this year, and looking forward to building on the momentum our program has generated the past few years,” said Statesboro coach Jim Simmons. “We have to find an entirely new outfield to replace all of our seniors from a year ago, but I feel we have a lot of talent out there, it’s just a matter of finding the right fits.”
As for the returning players, they are anchored by Rogers on the mound where she has been a force her first two years in the program. The rest of the infield is comprised of sophomores Avery Wiggins and Bailee Roberts on the left side of the infield, and seniors Jenna Coble and Morgan Thompson on the right side, with senior McKenzi Wilkerson rounding things out at catcher.
“I’m really counting on leadership out of my three seniors,” Simmons said. “They have all started since they were freshmen, and I’m excited for them for their senior season. We will also be counting on Brinson Anne Rogers. I’ve seen her improve year to year physically as well as mentally. Kinlee Carter will also be a factor on the mound this year.”
Simmons had a chance to see his Blue Devils in action Monday as they participated in the Effingham County High School Summer Slam.
The Blue Devils played two games Monday, knocking off Jenkins County 12-0 in the first game, followed by a weather shortened 1-1 four inning tie against Effingham County in game two.
Rogers was the key to the victory in game one on the mound as well as at the plate. Rogers had two hits and two RBI at the plate, and finished the game with 16 strikeouts over seven innings on the mound.
“Brinson Anne was solid all around in the first game,” Simmons said. “I felt like she hit the ball well, and she definitely had it going on the mound.”
Other RBI’s in game one came from Thompson, Wiggins, Roberts, Wilkerson, Sloan Aubrey and Emma Jayne Godbee.
In the weather shortened game two Wilkerson had Statesboro’s only hit, while Tanner Kaiser drove in the only run. Kinlee Carter was impressive on the mound as she allowed only one unearned run.
“I felt like we had moments in both games where we looked good, and others where we showed a little rust,” Simmons said. “This is a great opportunity to see the girls in action, and see what we need to work on. The good thing is we still have a few weeks before playing games that count.”
Statesboro will play two more games Tuesday as they take on Long County and Robert Toombs. Statesboro opens the season August 4th at Greenbrier.