After a long anticipated wait for school to resume, the Lady Leopard softball team finally began their season this week. With a rain cancellation forcing Monday’s game (Aug. 10) to be cancelled, Coach Cronic and 2020 seniors, Madison Cronic and Katie Gooch, had some time to reflect on the upcoming season.
Both seniors play key roles on this year’s team. Madison Cronic returns as a 4 year starter, Katie Gooch steps in this year as key player in outfield.
Cronic and Gooch are excited about this year’s season, and are approaching it with the motto of “Play every game like it is the last.”
Cronic stated, “With last year’s spring sports seasons cut short, every game could very well be our last game. I want to play like that, have fun but also with focus. I also want to soak up the memories”.
Gooch agreed with that motto and stated that being the only two seniors, “It is important that we set positive examples for our teammates, be supportive and always give it our all."
When asked what was special about this year’s team, Cronic said knowing that every game might be the last game her team may play, makes the whole season special. Also knowing that the team, the community and her coaches, all believe they have the desire and the talent to defend last year’s state title, makes this season a lot different than last year. Katie mentioned ending last year winning a state championship at home was remarkable, but she knows that they can do it again. They both credit their families, coaches and teammates for the all the success they have had in their high school career.
Second year head coach, Kelby Cronic, shared his thoughts regarding this upcoming season. Although the team looks different, losing one of the top pitchers in the state, Tybee Denton (UNG commit) and several key players such as Jill Martinet (Reinhardt commit), Brookely Lewis, Jewels Ayers and Kya Santiago (Emmanuel Commits), he is more than confident that his team can return to Columbus for a second year state title. He is looking for his returning players, as well as the freshman class, to help fill in those gaps. There are some tough opponents this season, such as Union County, but he believes very strongly that this year’s team will be in the running for a region title, in addition for a return trip to Columbus. He is extremely excited about his coaching staff, Dylan Charles, Todd Rylee, Kim Carithers, Jill McCutcheon, and Ramsey Allen. In addition, Angela Torres (former member of 2020 softball team) will also be part of the staff.
His philosophy this season is to set high standards for his players, and the players to set high standards for themselves. This year’s motto is: “Leave it better than you found it,” and expects his players to carry the theme throughout the season.
Coach Cronic believed that during last year’s season, the girls played selflessly and carried this attitude on and off the field.
He believes that this year’s team, although young, will also carry on that mentality toward a successful season.
Banks County Lady Leopards have a preseason ranking of #1 in the state, and play this week at Jefferson, Aug. 11, and host Stephens County at home, Aug. 13. Monday’s rainout on (Aug. 10) vs East Hall will Aug. 15.