By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
A little experimentation has really helped Hokes Bluff High’s softball team this season.
The experiment? Taking girls out of their position and placing them elsewhere on the field.
“During the summer, we played Piedmont one day and lost,” coach Brandon Bearden said. “Then we made a couple of switches and it was like a different team out there.”
The main switches were taking junior shortstop Carlie Shields and putting her at catcher and putting sophomore catcher Katelyn Payne at first base.
“Carlie has made a lot of great contributions at the plate,” Bearden said. “And she has turned out to be a very good catcher. And Katelyn is an excellent defensive first baseman – one of the best around.”
Sophomore Hannah Evans is now the shortstop, and Bearden also raved about her play.
Junior Mallory Delyeu is the main pitcher.
“She got off to a very hot start,” Bearden said. “But then again, the whole team got off to a hot start. We started off with a 7-2 record, then have dropped a couple to now be 8-5. We need to pick it back up and get in some rhythm with the playoffs coming up.”
Bearden said he can’t point out one thing that has caused the minor skid, but said the entire team needs to knuckle down and start back winning.
Having a young coach also seems to have helped the team spirits. This is Bearden’s first year out of college after having a great athletic career at Hokes Bluff.
“Since I’m so enthusiastic, I think the girls have picked up on that,” he said. “And this is a great group of girls to coach. They work hard and they aren’t jealous of each other. There’s no bickering or complaining. They all just want to win and make us a better team.”