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.