The Statesboro softball team has had a hard time with graduation over the past few seasons. The Blue Devils advanced to the state playoffs for five straight seasons but missed out last year and have lost plenty of starters over the last three years who had helped them reach new heights.
This year the Blue Devils will also see their third head coach in the past three years. Kaylee Coleman replaced long time head coach Jim Simmons last year but has since left Statesboro for Morgan County. The latest head coach is Matthew Meeks who was an assistant on the Blue Devil baseball team last season.
“I know historically we have had a pretty solid softball team at Statesboro High,” said Meeks. “I know we lost a couple good players from last year, but we return six girls who started last year. We have six seniors, six sophomores and six freshmen. I wish we had a few more juniors so we could field a JV team, but the ones out here now are working hard.”
Coming into a new situation Meeks has tried his best to keep things pretty simple.
“I’m very big in trying to just teach the fundamentals,” said Meeks. “I think if we work on the fundaments day by day, we will get a little better each day and those small increments will turn into big wins and a pretty successful season.”
“No matter what we work on the girls seem determined to do well,” said Meeks. “If we are doing something differently than how they did it in the past they don’t complain they go out and do it. They have bought in both mentally and physically.”
The Blue Devils lose their top two hitters from a year ago in Bailee Roberts and Avery Wiggins but return some depth on the mound in Mincey Akins, Cambree Issacson and Jada Coble.
“So far I really like what I have seen on the mound,” said Meeks. “I think we can throw quality strikes and the key is going to be how we do in the field behind our pitchers. We aren’t going to overpower people on the mound, so we are going to have to do a good job in the field.”
Meeks is looking to leadership on this year’s team to come from his six seniors.
“They have been here before they have played in the state and region tournaments, they know what it takes to get there,” said Meeks. “I expect them to help push the younger girls by their actions to help them get to where they need to be for us to become successful. We work on what we can do better as a team with everyone working together.”
The Blue Devils play in one of the tougher regions in Class 6-A with perennial powers South Effingham, Effingham County and Glynn Academy as well as Brunswick and Richmond Hill who both battled for the fourth and final playoff spot last season.
“I know historically there are good team in this region,” said Meeks. “I think we have put together a pretty competitive non-region schedule to help us compete when the region schedule comes around. If we do the little things right, I think we will be where we need to be at the end of the day.”
The Blue Devils open the 2021 season in a tournament at Tattnall County Saturday August 7. The home opener is August 11 against Screven County at Mill Creek Park.