By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
In Angie Sanders’ second term as Southside High softball coach, things have been up and down.
Last year, the Panthers were defeated in the Class 5A, Area 13 Tournament and missed regionals for the first time in years.
This season, Southside currently is ranked second n the state with a 14-3-1 record and is hopefully poised for a big postseason run.
“We had some problems last year,” Sanders said. “One of the pitchers missed five weeks with an injury, and our shortstop had a concussion at one point.”
This season, both the pitching and hitting are doing well so far.
Sophomores Claire Graves and Brittany Williams and 8th grader Savanna Yancey are all pitching well.
“All three of them have contributed, and that really helps in tournaments,” Sanders said. “Having three pitchers you can rely is a nice luxury.”
Senior centerfielder Savannah Thomas, who is bound for Troy University, leads the team in hitting with a .385 average. Graves, sophomore first baseman Paiden Kircus and freshman second baseman Hunter Ashcraft are also hitting the ball well.
“I can’t talk about this team without mentioning our third baseman, (sophomore) Savannah Elkins, who has done a tremendous job defensively,” Sanders said. “She is possibly the best defensive third baseman I’ve ever coached.”
Sanders said the overall team batting is better than last year and there is more speed.
The Panthers are also rich in the intangibles.
“These girls just get along with each other,” Sanders said. “They’ve got great camaraderie and absolutely no jealousy. They don’t care if they have to switch positions or anything. Whatever it takes to win is what they want.”
Sanders said that most of the girls play softball nine months out of the year and go to camps and take lessons.
“All I have to do is fine tune them,” Sanders said.
Etowah, Fort Payne and Boaz comprise Southside’s Area 13 competition.