Softball embraces new beginning


Katie Johnson

Head coach Peyton Dean gathers with the varsity softball team prior to the team’s first region game against Troup County. Coming off of the team’s first championship in program history has provided new challenges and new opportunities for the Panthers.

New year, new me. But for softball, it is a new year for a new team. 

Coming off of winning the first state championship in program history, seven starting players graduated. Four of them now play at the collegiate level. With these departures, the team’s composition has flipped with seven underclassmen stepping onto the field.

You go back from not so much game strategy to fundamentals and kind of learning the pace of play at that level.

— head coach Peyton Dean

“It’s definitely an adjustment,” head coach Peyton Dean said. “You go back from not so much game strategy to fundamentals and kind of learning the pace of play at that level.”

Seven new underclassmen may seem a little scary, but it also creates an opportunity for players to develop after multiple years in the program. 

For returning players, like lone senior Emily Quina, the new beginning also includes moving from third base to the circle. In addition, the entire team now looks to her for leadership.

“Being the only senior on the team is definitely tough,” Quina said. “It’s a tough responsibility to uphold and enforce all the traditions we have as a team. You want everyone to succeed and it’s hard to control 20+ people who are basically your age.” 

Another obstacle for the team has been weather. Five of the team’s first 11 games have been canceled due to rain. This has resulted in less time to learn the fundamentals and build team chemistry.

“As far as chemistry between the girls, [the weather] might have improved it,” Dean said. “They are having to hang out with each other all the time, whether that be 20 minutes a day in the locker room waiting for a game, or in the dugout playing games or [having] dance battles.”

Although the team is currently winless on the year (0-6, 0-3 in region play), the new beginnings are creating opportunities for everyone in the program. 

To hear more about these opportunities, watch Staff Writer Jenson Mahr’s “Coach’s Corner” with head coach Peyton Dean.

Starr’s Mill hosts region opponent Fayette County on August 30 followed by another home game on September 1 versus LaGrange. Both games begin at 7 p.m.