Chandler Pentecost is adjusting to her new role as a head high school softball coach for the first time, but it’s one she’s embracing fully as she takes over at Bethlehem Christian Academy, a program she’s already plenty familiar with.
“The transition has been exciting,” said Pentecost, who was an assistant at BCA for three seasons before being tapped this spring to take over as head coach. She had a decorated playing career as an all-state high school player in Florida and a standout at Chipola College and Thomas University. She also was an assistant coach at Thomas after graduating before she came to BCA.
“With the coaching that I’ve done through the years and learning from my coaches at the college level, I think it’s prepared me to be able to take on this job,” Pentecost said.
Pentecost is BCA’s third head coach in three seasons, having joined the program in spring 2019, when it won the GICAA state title before bumping up to GISA competition that fall. The Knights reached the GISA Class AAA Elite Eight that season and then struggled through a rebuilding year last fall.
This year’s squad, which is scheduled to open up its regular season Monday, Aug. 9, at Hebron Christian, has a mix of veterans that have been with the team since 2019 and youth, and Pentecost has been pleased with the team’s summer work. She’s joined by assistants Carlee Thurmond (a former Winder-Barrow High School standout who played at Georgia Highlands College), Greg Thurmond and Nicole Lee.
“It’s a great set of coaches working to bring our girls up to the next level,” Pentecost said. “This summer, we’ve been working a lot on their game knowledge, just getting them to soak in how to play the game and all the mechanics of the game. They’ve been great students. They’ve wanted to learn as much as they can, and they’ve done that well.”
Among BCA’s most experienced players and team leaders will be senior shortstop Hannah Still, junior center fielder Audrey Fry, senior corner infielder Mycah Baker and senior pitcher Mary Lindsay Wyatt.
Wyatt is stepping into a more prominent pitching role following the graduation of Clancy Bourbeau, and Pentecost describes her a strike-thrower with an especially effective change-up that allows her to get batters out. Sophomore Grayson Meeks, who leads a core of younger players, will also be counted on in the circle and offensively.
“I’m very excited about the potential of this team and excited to see what they’re capable of doing,” Pentecost said. “Our lineup is a good balance between small ball and the long ball. As long as we can execute things on our end and be selfless and get the job done to manufacture runs, we can be successful.
“We do have a lot of young girls on the team so we can’t wait to see how much they develop over the course of the season. Some of them have already come in and had an impact right away.”
After Monday’s season opener, the Knights will get started with their Region 4 schedule with their home opener Aug. 17 against Brentwood. Other region opponents include defending Class AAA state champ Westfield School, John Milledge Academy, Briarwood Academy, Edmund Burke Academy and Thomas Jefferson Academy. GISA’s five regions this season will be split into Class AAA, AA and A state playoffs with BCA among the 10 schools vying for a spot in the eight-team AAA tournament.
Pentecost loaded up BCA’s scrimmage schedule with GHSA schools, and, in addition to Monday’s opener against Hebron, the Knights will play two times against another GHSA opponent in Loganville Christian.
“Playing these bigger schools is going to get us prepared for the region that we face,” Pentecost said. “I’m just happy with how receptive the girls have been and looking forward to seeing what we’ll be able to do.”