That’s the life of a Lady Wildcat — much like for other softball players across Bartow County — in early summer.
With that aim in mind, Woodland’s varsity and junior varsity teams played in a Woodstock tournament intended to throw them against some of the region’s best. They hosted a tournament earlier this month and have participated in other contests as well as multiple practices.
For Colman Roberts, Woodland’s head coach, and his players, the multiple games are a labor of love. “We have some kids working hard to fill spots,” the coach said. “I try to tell them everyday that life is hard and to work hard at whatever you want to accomplish. I think they have bought into that. They are working extremely hard.”
On Wednesday, that team played three games — at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. — and won two of three, making them five of six for the week after having played three games Monday.
“We’ve already played 20 softball games this summer,” Roberts said prior to Wednesday’s games.
Woodland had defeated Creekview at 10 a.m. Monday, 7-2; Etowah in the noon game, 7-3, and River Ridge, 10-0, in the 2 p.m. contest. The Lady Wildcats overpowered Etowah, 10-2, Wednesday, but other results were not immediately available.
Roberts said some wins in Woodstock were very good. “River Ridge was region champs last year and went pretty deep in the playoffs. We played Milton [a 5-AAAAA school] in Lowndes County. I coached around there 10 years and lived in Lowndes County. My daughter was born there. They are a top-notch team.”
He said Woodland wanted to face tough competition.
“I requested that. Everyone we play is going to be good. Some teams want to win and feel good about how they do during the summer, but we want to get better. It doesn’t matter if we win or not. We need to face teams that will make us better.”
Roberts will use what he learns to fill starting positions and identify areas where more work is needed. The coach also hopes to see team chemistry build and for his seniors to learn how to lead this edition of the Lady Wildcats so they play to the best of their ability.
Still, it hasn’t all been about playing softball, as some girls have begun making collegiate decisions.
“We have Lacey [Fritz] back,” Roberts said. “She was deciding what college to attend.”
He said Fritz verbally committed to Southeastern Louisiana, a Division I school, this week. “She went to camp and they offered. She’s going to go there. She’s been wanting to catch in college and I think she made a good choice.”
Roberts said the games in Woodstock were productive from a team standpoint. “All our players have played extremely well.”
The coach said the team lost good players from last year and some players must step up into big roles. That’s especially true for seniors.
“We have three seniors back who started last year, and they will play a major role in our season,” Roberts said. “We lost several kids, but we have several working hard trying to take their positions.”
He said his seniors have good skills, have drawn the interest of colleges and appear to be stepping into leadership roles.
“Lacey Fritz, our catcher, is a two-year starter at that position. Since she was the designated hitter as a sophomore, she’s been a three-year starter. Lacey has all the tools. She can run. She has power. She has size.”
He said the Lady Wildcats’ shortstop, Taylor Braselton, is a three-year starter, including one year in the outfield.
“She got a lot of offers from college and has been leadoff [hitter] for us several years,” Roberts said. “She has speed and power and she’s good defensively. She’s got all the tools.
“She’s also seeing where she wants to go to college. I told her to choose a place where you want to go and they offer what you need,” he said.
The team’s third senior is Sydney Flowers.
“She plays second base for us and that’s a huge position in softball,” Roberts said. “She’s a top-notch defensive player and is a three-year starter. She’s also looking at some places.”
He said Flowers has been helping her cause with offense, too. “She’s been hitting the ball well in spring and summer.”
Roberts believes a lot of the Lady Wildcats’ season could turn on how well the seniors play and the guidance they provide.
“Those three are a huge part of our program,” the coach said. “They are great kids. They have great families. They work hard and lead by example and sometimes vocally when they have to.”
Roberts has begun setting other members of the varsity lineup. “Brooke Rogers is our No. 1 pitcher,” he said. “She threw well. It also seemed like the kids played well together and that’s a big deal.”
The coach said on the corners (first and third base) Woodland will have Darby Cagle and Bridgett Hampton.
“They kind of rotated in and out last year some,” he said.
The coach said Bailey Roberts, who played right field last year, will likely move to center field. “The other positions we’ll try to fill,” he added.
Roberts said the lineup of games this week was intended to be rugged.
“Our kids are tired at the end of the day, but it’s really going to help them later,” he said.
The coach said he’s looking forward to seeing the team perform in the regular season.
“We’re really excited about this year,” he said. “We always talk about the kids we’ve lost. But the year we went to Columbus, we had lost a lot of players. But that year we won 32 games. We played well together and hit as a team, being unselfish.
“But it’s early, and we’ve definitely have a long way to go.”