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DHS softball gets priorities in order for 2010

Practices don’t start until Jan. 25, but the Demopolis High softball team is already focused on the 2010 season. The girls began throwing last week, taking another step toward building upon their strong finish in 2009.

While their 14-22 record a season ago is less than exciting, the way the team wrapped up the year was nothing less than remarkable. Despite boasting only one senior, that squad pulled together a series of wins that left it with arm’s reach of the state tournament.

“We talked the first day. I believe it is important for us to pick up where we left off mentally last year,” head coach Joey Browder said. “We return a lot of leadership.”

While the lineups are far from decided, the Lady Tiger roster includes a lot of familiar faces. Among them are experienced outfielders Kathleen Randall, Samantha Walker and Jordon Cramer, infielders Kristin Beach, RayLee Eubanks and Ashley Polk, pitchers Madison Laduron, Madison Bozeman and Melanie McCrory as well as catchers Alexis Jones and Carly Latham. All told, the Lady Tiger roster features five seniors and five juniors as well as a rio of sophomores that saw significant playing time last season.

That group will be joined by sophomore Alex Crawford, who sat out 2009 after transferring from Greensboro Public but still managed to participate in all of the DHS practices.

“She played travel ball this summer and practiced with the team last year,” Browder said of Crawford. “She’ll definitely help us in the outfield.”

Also deepening the roster this year will be a talented freshman class that will push for playing time at a number of positions.

“Some of these ninth graders came in an played our exhibition games this summer,” Browder said. “We know what we’ve got with some of them.”

Another addition to the program comes in the dugout as former Sweet Water head coach Adam Sealy moves into the assistant coach role at Demopolis.

“He brings a lot of experience to the table and we’re glad to have him on board,” Browder said.

“I’m excited to be back,” Sealy, who now teaches U.S. Jones Elementary, said of his return to the game after spending two years away from the diamond while serving as the principal at Thomasville Elementary. “I’m impressed with how dedicated the girls are. To be a good ball team, you’ve got to put the dedication in it.”

Browder and Sealy will soon turn their attention to determining who will take the field for the team’s Feb. 15 opening day Demopolis Invitational.

“The best nine (players) Feb. 15 will play the first game,” Browder said. “We’re going to play who the coaches see as being the best at each position week to week and game to game. Nobody is guaranteed a position. Everything is open.”

This year’s program will also be afforded the benefit of having enough players to field a junior varsity team to get extended playing time for all of the girls. However, Browder cautions that each player must maintain an intense approach to practice and play in order for the team to be successful.

“I like our numbers as far as depth goes. I feel like it is crucial for us to have the numbers to field a JV squad,” Browder said. “With that said, I don’t want my players to get in a varsity/JV mentality.”

DHS opens Feb. 15 at home against Dallas County and Good Hope.