According to the Georgia High School Association, softball teams can start practicing at the end of July.
Darlington head coach Anna Swafford didn’t have that luxury.
The new coach for Darlington, who played for the Lady Tigers in high school, just barely got enough players together to form a team this week and opened the season Wednesday at home with a 14-6 loss against Coosa with only one day of practice.
“We were worried for a little bit that we might not have enough to field a team, but we got a few new freshmen and one new junior who have been trying their best,” Swafford said. “We’ve literally been together for about 24 hours. We’re excited to get out and get a game under our belts and let those girls get some game experience.”
The Lady Tigers went down early 3-0 in the first inning when Maddie Shell came home on a sacrifice groundout by Tejah Spivey and a two-run single hit by Shelby Nutter. Darlington tied the score 3-3 in the bottom of the inning, but the inexperienced Lady Tigers ended up getting overwhelmed by the Lady Eagles who outscored their opponent 11-3 over the remaining innings.
Swafford, who took over the program back in May, was glad to see her team not give up despite being down by 10 in the third inning.
“I’m very happy with the way they performed,” Swafford said. “We had some first-game nervous jitters. We started off really strong and just had a couple of errors and some little mistakes that kind of beat ourselves. I know the girls are just going to get better every single day, and that’s what’s exciting for me.”
Coosa improved to 3-5 with the win and has already impressed head coach Chris Jacobs. The Lady Eagles managed only two wins last season and went winless during the 2017 season.
“It was good to get a win,” Jacobs said. “We already have more hits, more wins than we’ve had in the last two years. Our batting average has to come up, but that will come with age. It’s starting to comether. We just want to be competitive.”
For Coosa, Shelby Nutter earned the win throwing five innings and allowing five hits, while striking out one. At the plate, Nutter a two-run double. Teammate Maddie Shell had two hits, an RBI and a run scored, Abby Jacobs had a single, two RBIs and three runs scored, and M.K. West had a double and two RBIs.
For Darlington, Belle Brooks had a single and two stolen bases, Caroline Dingler scored two runs and had two stolen bases, Karoline Hunt had two runs scored, and Lataija Jackson had a double, a single and two RBIs. Lily Fowler took the loss for the Lady Tigers.
Coosa hosts Region 7-AA foe Pepperell Thursday at 4:30 p.m., while Darlington faces Gordon Lee on the road at 5 p.m. in a Region 6-A contest.