The Georgia Highlands College softball team has wrapped up their fall season and is heading into winter individuals. First pitch of the spring season is slated to begin on January 31st of 2014 when the Charger’s head to Clearwater, Florida for the Junior College Leadoff Classic. “Right now winter workouts are to make us bigger, faster and stronger. We noticed when we were playing all of the four-year programs this fall that we are undersized and we are trying to build Division I-caliber athletes,” said Head Coach Melissa Wood.
The Charger’s fall season included competition against four-year programs, four of which were Division I institutions including: Georgia State, Tennessee Tech, Mercer University and the NCAA third-ranked and defending SEC champions University of Florida Gators. “Our promise to our inaugural class was to play a very competitive fall schedule against various four-year and Division I institutions. It was great to see that come to fruition and to saturate our athletes in that kind of atmosphere,” added Wood.
Highlights from the fall included stellar pitching performances from Brandi Hughes, who pitched a seven-inning win against NCAA Division I Mercer University, and Jerrica Littlejohn, who pitched three consecutive scoreless innings against the Florida Gators.
Wood states, “We have a lot to look forward to with our pitching staff. We have four pitchers that can get the job done. The fact that Brandi pulled a win against a Division I institution and that Jerrica threw three scoreless innings in a row against UF is unbelievable. Morgan McKinney was out with an illness and Danielle Fricks is working her way back from a medical redshirt, but I think the four as a staff has the potential to make us a competitive program from year one.”
Offensive highlights from the fall undeniably included the long ball. Five players tallied home runs- Sierra Cagle, Kayleigh Medlin, Liz Prance, Hillary Rowell and Kristen Mullis- with Cagle and Medlin accumulating multiple dingers. By far the most impressive long ball was Medlin’s game-winning shot against Mercer that soared halfway up the Bear’s state-of-the-art scoreboard. Jarrett and Littlejohn, slappers that take up the one and nine spot in the order, consistently led the offensive performances along with righties Miles and Prance.
“Our offense pleasantly surprised me this fall. Fall ball is more about getting experience as a team; most of our offensive instruction will come during winter workouts. The consistency of how Miles and Prance made solid contact against our Division I opponents promises a notable future for them once they leave GHC. These two are just the tip of the iceberg. We have the capability to drive the ball from the top to the bottom of the lineup. It is just going to depend on the commitment and maturity of our young program to perform on consistent basis,” Wood claims.
Off the field, the GHC softball program raised over $26,000 in monetary donations, not including various in-kind gifts. The team works at the Georgia Dome to fund tutoring, scholarships, various renovations at Stars Field, and the meals and entry fees of the fall schedule. Wood adds, “It’s crazy to see how much money we have raised this year considering our account is almost completely depleted. It takes a lot of money to catch a program up to other established junior colleges in the area, and we are fortunate that we have the support of our families, community and administration here at Georgia Highlands College.”
Stars Field, located behind Stars Pre-Kindergarten on Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville, Georgia, received a facelift thanks to sponsors, GHC administration and the hard work from the Bartow County Recreational Department. Renovations included repainting and branding the entire facility, instilling new dirt and sod to and around the infield, a new warning track, adding an all-dirt bullpen and hitting stations, turfing the batting cages, a new sound system and two brand new 27-foot enclosed grandstands.
The clubhouse has been renovated from the ground up, padding the seats to the lockers, painting and branding the inside of the facility, tiling the bathroom and shower, adding a coaching office and fully functional training room including a freezer, two training room tables, desk, and medical storage. The most recent addition to the clubhouse includes wireless internet, cable and a phone line.
Wood praises, “We have a lot of support. The Bartow County Recreational Department is top-notch. They understand how influential the college program can be to the development of softball in Bartow County, and we in return, know how important it is to give back to this wonderful community. I cannot imagine us having what we do if we were not here in Bartow, having the parents and families that we do in our program or the unlimited support from Georgia Highlands.”
On top of the commitment at the field, the players play an active part in the community and in the classroom. The softball team has volunteered at the local blood drive, with the Bartow Rec Department, and at GHC’s Banned Book Day
on the Cartersville campus. The athletes also plan to help package goods for the needy during the holiday season. In addition to their commitment in the community they also strive in the classroom. Players accumulate between nine to 12 hours of study hall a week in both the GHC and Bartow County libraries.
Wood says, “Our goal is not only to be a competitive softball program, but to become valuable members of today’s society. Our players understand that one-day softball ends. The importance of getting a college degree and having credible experience within the community and in the workplace are imperative. Our incoming freshman class had an accumulated HOPE GPA of about 3.5, so I am hoping that we can be around a 3.2 by the end of the spring semester as a program.”
You can find more information about the Lady Charger softball program at their website www.ghcsoftball.com
or on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaHighlandsCollegeSoftball
. The first home game occurs during the GHC Hosted Border Battle on February 7th and 8th at Stars Field.
The Lady Charger Softball Team played Tennessee Tech on Sunday, September 22nd in Cookeville, Tennessee. The Chargers dropped both games to the NCAA Division I school by a score of 8-1 in the first game and 6-3 in the second.
On the Game:
"First let me say I am so proud of the team for the strides we are making on the field. We played an NCAA Division I program with a lot of very big, and powerful hitters and a great pitching staff. We were able to put up runs both games and our defense kept us from getting run-ruled. The second game we even hung in there by a run until the seventh inning. I am putting today in the win column as far as our improvements we have made in six weeks of softball at GHC."
On the Offense:
"We are improving everyday on offense. I can tell the girls are trying to carry the fundamentals of the swing we teach in practice into the games. Honestly, we would rather them swing correctly and strike out right now than slow down the swing and just try to make contact. If they can swing confidently and correctly against the level of competition we are playing in the fall, games in the spring should be a breeze."
On the Defense:
"The defense is absolutely sharpening up. We made a few double-plays and were able to capitalize on a few Tennessee Tech baserunning errors. The Tennessee Tech ballplayers made solid contact both games, it was nice to see us make some plays on balls that would have been scored as hits last week at Georgia State."
On the Battery:
"I was very excited to see how well our players scored runs today. They have a very good staff and we were able to make solid contact both games."
On September 20th the Georgia Highlands Lady Chargers took on Snead State and Gadsden College. Both are members of the NJCAA. The girls split on the day losing by a run to Snead, then run-ruling Gadsden College.
On the Game:
"We are fortunate to pick up a few games against NJCAA Competition. These games had the similar goals of the game in Chipola, mix things up and try to get better on our fundamentals. The first game we were still a little hesitant and then the second game we exploded, started hitting the ball for power, stringing together base hits, and being aggressive on the base paths."
On the Offense:
"We were slow to get the bats going in the first game. In the second game we were taking aggressive cuts and Liz Prance was able to get her first homerun of fall and Sierra Cagle came up with her second. More impressively, the baserunning was aggressive. We just need to be able to get going more the first game, so our staff will be playing around with pre-game warm-ups a little more to try to become more affective from pitch one."
On the Defense:
"The defense gets better every game. We switched around the middles and I think this is a better fit for the team. We threw the ball around less, and made a lot less errors. If we can keep improving on defense we will win games in the spring."
On the Battery:
"The pitching staff continues to get better. We still had some missed signs and our communication by our catchers can stand to improve behind the plate. But Brandi, Jerrica, and Danielle are all making remarkable steps with spin, location, and most importantly, endurance. They will need this as Morgan McKinney will be out for a few weeks due to a respiratory infection."
The fall slate began Sunday, Sept. 15, with an exhibition doubleheader at NCAA DI Georgia State in Atlanta. The Lady Panthers, who just joined the Sun Belt Conference, played the Lady Chargers at noon at the Bob Heck Softball Complex in Panthersville. The Lady Chargers fell 12-2 in seven innings of play.
Coach Wood's Notes on Georgia State:
On the Game:
"It was a great experience to have our first-ever competition as a team and as a college at Georgia State University. I could tell the players were nervous in the first few innings, but we eventually settled down and scored some runs."
On the Offense:
"We even left a good amount of players on base. I believe the more games we play and the more settled we become, we will be able to bring those runs in. But two runs against a very good Georgia State is not a bad day. Liz Prance and Lindsey Miles made great contact all game."
On the Defense:
"We made a lot of young errors on defense against Georgia State. We have to keep perspective and understand that this is a team that is five weeks old and the Division 1 players hit the ball hard. We will get back to fundamentals next week and believe we will sharpen up once we get more games under our belt."
On the Battery:
"I think our pitching staff did a good job. We had a few missed calls from the catchers, and a few missed pitches by our pitchers, but better to learn our strengths and weaknesses now than in the spring when it counts. Morgan McKinney got an inning in before we had to pull her for breathing issues, we will get an update with her once we are back in Cartersville."
Following Georgia State was an exhibition match against NJCAA member and perennial top-25 team Chipola College (FL). The Lady Indians game began right around 2pm. The lady Chargers dropped against Chipola 12-7.
Coach Wood's Notes on Chipola:
On the Game:
"Our goals against Chipola were a little different that that of Georgia State. Chipola, being a NJCAA school that we could potentially play in the spring, was used as an opportunity to mix in players and let the athletes that did not get time against Georgia State time on the field."
On the Offense:
"We settled down and our bats got better this game. Kayleigh Medlin and Sierra Cagle were able to hit homeruns and Prance and Miles continued to hit the ball. Fall is the time to swing the bat, and I think we were more aggressive in game two."
On the Defense:
"I was glad to see our defense settle down and improve from the first game. We threw the ball around less and even pulled off an infield double play. We need to work on tags and our overall energy on the field."
On the Battery:
"Being a fall game against an NJCAA school, I left the pitchers on the field a little more than I would have in a regular season game. With Morgan out of the picture for this game, I had no intention of putting Brandi back on the mound. So the runs scored against Danielle and Jerrica were a bit misleading and later this fall and in the spring our pitcher's endurance will improve. Overall, I was very impressed by our pitching staff and am excited to see their improvement in the next games."
The local community will have only one chance to see Georgia Highlands’ inaugural softball team this fall, but head coach Melissa Wood promises it will be a fun event for the whole family.
The team will host an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, and the Lady Chargers plan on making it a special day for everyone.
“We only have one home date for the fall, so we wanted to offer something to everyone as an incentive to get them to the field,” Coach Wood said. “I think what we have planned is something everyone will enjoy.”
The community will be treated to a scrimmage, a raffle and an open tour of the upgraded facilities at Stars Field. “We’re proud of the hard work we put into Stars Field,” Coach Wood said, “and I really want the community to see what we have to offer them.”
Stars Field, the former home of the Cass High Lady Colonels, is complete with upgraded dugouts, locker room, a clubhouse for pre-game meetings and video, a training room, coaches’ office, press box and batting cages.
There will also be a raffle in which $1 tickets can win a variety of prizes, including a Kindle e-reader, Braves cooler, vintage Thrashers jersey, Tellus Museum tickets, a stay at the local Marriott, a spa basket and more. All proceeds will benefit the softball program.
The highlight of the afternoon, however, features the Lady Chargers, who will scrimmage in a 10-inning game with an intermission after five innings. First pitch is at 1 p.m. and children 17 and younger, season ticket holders and Georgia Highlands students, faculty and staff will be admitted free; admission for all others is $5.
Read more: RN-T.com - LOCAL COLLEGES Georgia Highlands plans softball open house
Georgia Highlands College Head Softball Coach Melissa Wood announced on Wednesday the Lady Chargers’ inaugural fall season schedule. The schedule includes three NCAA Division I opponents, a tournament at an NCAA Division II school and one NAIA school as well as another DII member and a fellow NJCAA institution.
“We’re very excited about the level of DI competition we lined up,” Coach Wood said of the opponents. “We’re looking to get our name out across the Southeast and hopefully turn some heads while we’re doing it.” (note: all game times are local)
The fall slate begins Sunday, Sept. 15, with an exhibition doubleheader at NCAA DI Georgia State in Atlanta. The Lady Panthers, who just joined the Sun Belt Conference, will battle the Lady Chargers at noon at the Bob Heck Softball Complex in Panthersville. Then they follow with an exhibition match against NJCAA member and perennial top-25 team Chipola College (FL). The Lady Indians game is tentatively slated at 2PM.
The following Saturday, Sept. 21, the Lady Chargers will travel to Cookeville, Tenn., to face NCAA DI member Tennessee Tech of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Lady Eagles will host GHC in an exhibition doubleheader beginning at 2PM.
Saturday, Sept. 28, the Lady Chargers will host their only home date of the fall with an intrasquad doubleheader scrimmage. The Blue and Orange Game will also double as the Open House for the facilities. Season ticket-holders and anyone 18 and under will have free admission, and there will also be a raffle for prizes.
The next week sees the team travelling to two different institutions. The first stop will be in Dahlonega on Thursday, Oct. 3, to take on NCAA DII foe the University of North Georgia. The Lady Chargers will play two exhibition games against their Peach Belt Conference opponents starting at 5PM. Saturday, Oct. 5, they will travel down Highway 20 to Waleska to battle NAIA’s Reinhardt University in a breast cancer awareness game.
GHC will continue its cancer-fighting tour the following Saturday, October 12, in a fundraising tournament at Lee University, an NCAA DII Gulf South Conference member. The times and opponents for that tournament are to be announced.
The Lady Chargers will cap off their fall season with an exhibition doubleheader in Gainesville, Fla., against SEC powerhouse the University of Florida. The Lady Gators will play host at 1PM and 3PM.
The beginners camp scheduled for July 30th has been postponed until the fall due to renovations taking place at the field.
On Tuesday, July 23rd, the advanced skills camp hosted both in and out-of-state athletes and were instructed by camp counselors representing Division I, Division II, and Division III schools along with the NJCAA Georgia Highlands staff. Recently graduated University of Georgia's Maya Branch is seen here working with slappers during the offensive portion of the camp. Three 2014 campers will be asked on official visits in the fall.
On Wednesday, July 24th, the GHC Staff hosted a prospect camp. With a great showing of future Chargers, the players were able to showcase their defensive, offensive and baserunning skills. At least five prospects of the 2015 class will be asked on campus for un-official visits this fall. The future of Charger Softball looks great!
Field Renovations Taking Place
Field is currently being painted royal blue, GHC branding will be applied once the base coat is complete.
Sod has been added to outfield grass line and down the side of the dugout lines.
Locker Room renovations are now complete. Thursday internet is being installed and a security system is being added.
Seats have been upholstered, equipment and apparel will be added back to the locker room upon completion of outside painting, internet, and security system instillation.
Georgia Highlands College Softball Head Coach Melissa Wood announced that Danielle Fricks will join the Lady Chargers in the upcoming season. The pitcher signed her letter of intent in a small ceremony on Wednesday, June 26. She is the 22nd and final addition to the roster.
Fricks was a four-year letterman in the circle at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Ga. Her impressive velocity made her a workhorse early for the Lady Eagles, and before the end of her prep career she had offers from several Division I and Division II schools. She eventually signed with Alabama State, but she took a medical redshirt her freshman year before deciding to continue her career at Georgia Highlands.
“GHC has a beautiful campus, and it just feels like the right place to be,” Fricks said of her decision to sign with Georgia Highlands. “It was an easy choice.”
“She’s going to be a great addition to our roster,” Coach Wood added. “She has great velocity, a strong work ethic and was courted by several big schools. I’m excited she chose us.”
The Lady Chargers will begin their inaugural campaign in the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.
Most of the inaugural 2013-2014 softball team at the first orientation at the Floyd Campus.
- Orientation: Players are making their final preparations to attend Georgia Highlands in the fall. The girls will report to campus on August 5th and the official start date of practice is August 10th.
- Get your season tickets now!!! Visit the Dugout Club tab to get season tickets or a dugout club level sponsorship. Seat-Back Fence VIP tickets are limited to the first 22 charger fans. The remaining VIP season tickets will be seat-back plastic bleacher chairs on the Charger/Home side.
- Renovations: Field renovations are still going on. Projected completion for renovations are August 2013. The locker room is nearly complete. The bathroom and shower floors have been tiled, the locker room walls are painted, the seats are being padded, and storage added in preparation for when the equipment and apparel arrives. The coaches office has been carpeted and painting is almost finished. The training room floor is being tiled with laminate tile and the walls are being spackled and painted before we start moving training room equipment in. The Bartow County Recreation Department will be painting the softball complex royal blue upon the conclusion of the summer recreational league games.
- Camps: Visit the camp & clinic section to see the instructional and recruiting opportunities offered in July: Prospect Camp, Beginners Skills Camp, Advanced Skills Camp. All camps include a unique one-time camp t-shirt design and skills camp also includes lunch.
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