MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - The Georgia College & State University softball team begins its season Feb. 5, and over the next four days, Bobcat fans will get a peek at the 2010 softball team, broken down by position. Today's entry focuses on the Georgia College infield.
Over the past five years with head coach Ginger Chaffinch at the helm, the Georgia College softball team has become one of the premier programs in the southeast. The Bobcats have made four-straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, won the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Tournament, won an NCAA region title and produced six All-America trophies, with two Academic All-America honors in the past five seasons. The Bobcats are coming off a 32-24 year taking second in the PBC, matching the program's best finish.
What will they do for an encore? Integrate nine newcomers to some game-tested veterans in an effort to come up with the right formula for success.
"As a coach, you ideally want a good mix of four-year players with junior college transfers," said Chaffinch. "I think we have a really good balance this year."
Senior Kayla Smith (Lexington, S.C.) carries a big stick, playing either right-side spot. She used the 2009 NCAA Southeast Regional as her own showcase, thwacking three home runs in as many games en route to All-Tournament Team honors. She finished with six round-trippers, hit .240 and drove in 25 while slugging a solid .460.
When not pitching, Haley Burnett (Columbus, Ga.) (.192, 1 HR, 7 RBI) should also spend time at first base or designated player, as the Hardaway High home run queen has "the potential to be a tremendous power hitter".
Sophomore Jessica Solomon (Douglasville, Ga.) saw action in 27 games a year ago at third base, and will return to play at both corners this season. As a rookie, she hit .172 with a couple of doubles and her first collegiate home run, and can "hit the ball a ton" says Chaffinch.
Junior second baseman Bailey Thompson (Vidalia, Ga.) brings nine games of experience as a Bobcat with her this season, and should see her role increase. A very smart runner, she may be a top choice in pinch-running opportunities as well.
A transfer from region champion Darton College, Lisa Williams (Perry, Ga.) will factor in at the middle infield spots, and is a solid defender, hard worker, and good singles and doubles hitter. An All-Region and All-County pick at Dacula High, Kelsea Martin (Dacula, Ga.) is a tremendous fielding third baseman who "moves smoothly to both her left and right" and is a "great contact hitter that is very smart about the game".
Junior shortstop Brandie Monroe (Guyton, Ga.) comes to Milledgeville after being named a junior college All-American at Andrew College. Monroe is very strong defensively and continues to improve in her offensive game.
The Bobcats begin action at the GSW Tournament, hosted by Georgia Southwestern State University, Friday, Feb. 5 at 4:30 p.m. taking on Albany State University.
The GCSU Department of Athletics, winners of the 2008-09 PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Georgia College prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the Bobcats' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at Twitter.com username GCSUSID for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame.