Jackson County coach Chessie Laird wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of her team this fall after it lost six seniors off last year’s 15-9 squad.
But summer practices and scrimmages have helped ease any concerns.
“With the upcoming freshmen, we’ve been impressed with just their work ethic and really buying into our system and getting to know what our expectations are,” said Laird, who enters her fourth year with the Panthers. “For our returners, we’ve really been working hard as far lifting weights three days a week and coming straight after and practicing and going to games.”
So far, Laird said the team’s defense and pitching have been sound, but the offense remains a work in progress. But that’s where the scrimmages come into play.
“I feel like the little things we’re able to do and break down in these summer games have been important to let us see where we need to go,” she said.
As far as individual efforts go, Laird said that rising freshman Brooke Kibbe has been impressive in the pitchers’ circle this summer, while Shelton Kendrix “has done really great,” but the coach is most impressed with what she’s seen from the team collectively.
“It’s not just one or two people,” Laird said. “It’s really the whole group effort.”
Jackson County is playing in Franklin County’s summer league and faced four opponents last week — Commerce, Banks County, Franklin County and Elbert County.
Laird said these scrimmages provide a good transition into the season, which starts soon on Aug. 12.
“It’s important for us to be able to play these scrimmages so that we can put players in pressure situations,” Laird said. “In practice, you can only do so much for pressure. But when a game is on the line, it’s a lot different.”
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