So even though Cartersville struggled mightily in 2010 — going 0 for 13 — Holsomback appears to be far from deterred heading into Year 2 as Lady Canes skipper.
“We’re a very, very young team. I mean, only one girl on the team has a driver’s license, so we’re very young,” Holsomback chuckled. “But [we have] a lot of room to grow and a lot of positive things. We got a lot of good talent coming up. The middle school program is also doing well so … we’re in a tough region, but we’re just going to get better if we play better competition.”
Cartersville needs to plug multiple holes following its winless campaign — including at the plate. More than half of Cartersville’s games — seven — ended in shutouts as the Lady Canes failed to drive in runs consistently. The team’s highest output — four runs — came in last season’s opener at Murray County.
Cartersville, which played a scrimmage at Marietta Saturday, looks to be headed in the right direction. The Lady Canes approached the 20-run mark, though hits and runs were not recorded.
“We’ve spent a lot of time doing hitting drills and the mental part of hitting,” Holsomback said. “Hitting is about failure, that’s what it’s about, and you have to get over those failures to be able to be successful and I think we were able to do that [Saturday]. We didn’t hit the ball hard the first inning, but we were able to manufacture some runs. It’s not about hitting 1.000, it’s just about getting those runs across the plate and that’s what we did.
“We executed some hit-and-runs [Saturday], some squeeze plays; I was very happy with that execution part of it. Those are things that as we grow and as we get better, we’ll be able to hit the ball a little bit further. And most of these girls are freshmen so they’re not going to hit it to the fence.”
In addition to offensive woes last year, Cartersville also faltered on the mound and in the field — a recipe for many of its blowouts a year ago. Teams scored an average of 15.8 runs per game against the Lady Canes.
The graduation of Julia Sheppard, who displayed grit despite bumps and bruises throughout the year, means Cartersville will have a new starter in the pitcher’s circle.
“Annalyn Yantis will be our starting pitcher. She’s a freshman and she’s done a great job for us already this year,” Holsomback said. “She works hard in the offseason and takes the lessons and does the things she needs to do so she’s got a tough road ahead of her, but she’s very determined and very capable and we’re very excited that she’s here.”
Yantis will be backed up by Morgan Bennett.
“Morgan’s gonna support us and help us as well. It’s good to have two pitchers that can throw it across the plate and with the added defense behind ’em, it makes them look that much better,” the Lady Canes coach said.
Pitcher is not the only position where the Lady Canes will be breaking in someone new, but the team does return some second-year players, including catcher Kailah Rain and third baseman Maddie Geiger.
“We’ve got some returning sophomores that we’re starters last year, and they had three big hits [Saturday]. … Third and catcher are pretty important positions; they’ve done very well for us, last year and this year,” Holsomback said. “Add some pitching and some other young hitters, and we’re going to be OK.”
Though the Lady Canes’ coach does not fully expect his team to compete in Region 7-AAA for another few years, he does think the Cartersville girls will take the next logical step.
“I don’t focus on wins and losses, I focus on the process,” Holsomback said. “ If we can just sustain an early tough schedule, I think our girls will come out and hopefully by the region tournament be able to make some gains; I don’t want to say make the state playoffs but just go a little bit deeper than we did last year.”
The Lady Canes open the season today at home in a non-region game against Cedartown. The game begins at 5:30 p.m.
Below is the rest of Cartersville’s schedule as well as a team roster.
Cartersville Lady Canes
00 — Mallory Jackson, Fr.
1 — Tinsley Dobson, Sr.
2 — Destiny Huff, Fr.
3 — Mallory Howard, Fr.
5 — Tillery Tidwell, So.
6 — Kailah Rain, So.
7 — Alex Vielhaber, So.
9 — Annalyn Yantis, Fr.
11 — Annie Holsomback, Fr.
12 — Hayleigh James, So.
22 — Hunter Irvin, Fr.
25 — Morgan Bennett, Fr.
28 — Madison Floyd, Fr.
34 — Maddie Geiger, So.
35 — Megan Norris, Fr.
AUG. 9 — vs. Cedartown, 5:30 p.m.
15-20 — at Marietta tournament
23 — at Ringgold, 6 p.m.
25 — vs. Heritage-Catoosa, 5:55 p.m.
30 — at Allatoona, 5:30 p.m.
SEPT. 1 — vs. Dalton, 5:55 p.m.
6 — at Ridgeland, 5 p.m.
8 — at Cedartown, 5:55 p.m.
13 — vs. Gilmer, 5:30 p.m.
15 — vs. Murray County, 6 p.m.
20 — at Pickens, 5:55 p.m.
22 — vs. SE Whitfield, 5:55 p.m.
27 — at LaFayette, 5 p.m.
OCT. 1-8 — Region tournament at Heritage