Ashleigh Miles

Pitcher Ashleigh Miles is one of three returning starting pitchers for the Loganville Lady Red Devils in 2020.

LOGANVILLE – Last year was a bit of a rebuilding year for the Loganville softball team.

The Lady Devils finished as the Class AAAAA state runner-up in 2018, but lost nearly their entire starting lineup to graduation. The one starter who didn’t graduate had shoulder surgery before the 2019 season, leaving Loganville with a completely fresh team.

However, last year’s rebuilding year may help pay big dividends heading into the 2020 season. Loganville’s entire lineup, sans first baseman Mackensey Randall, and rotation returns as well as senior Madison Keener, who is back from her shoulder injury.

“Last year we had all new players with very little varsity experience. This year we have girls that have played at that level and have playoff experience. I think that will benefit us greatly going into this season,” Lady Devils head coach Alan Maddox said. “We seem a lot more relaxed and confident this season knowing that we have so many coming back. There’s a comfort knowing that the same girls you played with last year are back this year.”

Senior catcher Sarah Glick is expected to lead the way both at the plate, offensively and defensively, and in the dugout.

“Sarah Glick is the glue for our team,” Maddox said. “I think her leadership can help bond this team and lead us back to the playoffs.”

Maddox also looks for big things out of Keener, Anna Waites, Ashleigh Miles, Katie Plummer and Lindsey Lumsden at the plate. Freshmen Brooklin Lippert and Rivers Sampson may also see significant time on varsity.

Pitching wise, Miles will hold down the No. 1 spot for the Lady Devils followed by Shelby Coffey and Grace Kendrick.

“I think Ashleigh Miles will be our main pitcher. She had a great end of the season last year and has really had a lot of success in travel this spring. She throws the ball really hard and moves it well. She has the ability to dominate a game,” Maddox said. “We also have Shelby Coffey and Grace Kendrick to help complete the staff. Both girls got a lot of varsity experience last year and have gotten stronger in the off season.”

Loganville’s biggest challenge this year has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced teams to get started way later in the year than usual. However, Maddox feels confident his team is ready to start the season strong.

“We are used to starting the day after graduation with all of the girls on the team. Now, we had to wait until almost July to get started.  Plus we had to do tryouts much later. It reminds me of the old days when we had to do tryouts starting Aug. 1. Also, all of the safety protocols are very different. Especially when travel ball doesn’t follow the same guidelines,” Maddox said. “I think our girls are ready to go.  Most of them have been playing travel softball tournaments for a couple of months. I've been very pleased with how well we have come back from the time off. We need to work on some offensive/defensive strategy concepts and team building things, but fundamentally we look good.”

Despite losing powerhouse Buford, Region 8-AAAAA may still be the toughest softball region in the state. Playoff regulars Greenbrier, Eastside, Apalachee and Jackson County all joined the region this year thanks to reclassification in addition to cross-county rival and state title contender Walnut Grove.

“Our region has more parody than ever before,” Maddox said. “I think there are six teams that could make the playoffs. I’m not sure one team stands out more than the others. It should be interesting.”

Loganville begins the season on Tuesday at Parkview before opening the year at home on Aug. 15 against county foe George Walton.

Brett Fowler is the sports editor of The Walton Tribune. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of North Georgia and a 2010 graduate of Monroe Area High School. Brett has been covering Walton County sports since 2011.

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