Like Thomas Dale High School baseball, softball went on a ride last year that took them to the state semifinals, where they fell to Grassfield. And like their diamond counterparts, they’ll do everything they can to get back and make it to the promised land under coach Patrick Sweet.
Three seniors graduated from the 15-7 team: T’Asijah Vaughan (Virginia State), Brooke Dudley and Rebecca Kirby. The former two were starters, and the latter was a reserve player who provided great leadership.
Longwood University pledge and senior Leigha Hill will enter the circle for her last season pitching for Thomas Dale. She is also a standout on the offensive side.
“She [Hill] is the backbone of the team with her pitching and her bat,” Sweet said. “She’s a team leader.”
Teanna Davis will round out the battery at catcher most games. Sweet expects offensive improvement from his backstop this season.
The infield will be anchored by Taylor Goniwicha at first base and Brianna Bogan at third. Up the middle will be Richard Bland College pledge and senior Madison Rice at short, with sophomore Skylar Howard at second.
“We really need Maddie [Rice] to bring her big bat this season,” Sweet said. “She’ll be one of our leaders as well.”
In the outfield will roam one of the best overall softball players in the area in Gianna Terrell. After hitting .400 with excellent speed and above average defense last year as a sophomore, she’ll be counted on for production. Also in the outfield will be senior Anja Carter and underclassmen Ally Eaton and Ashlyn Johnson.
With new starters and underclassmen stepping up, Sweet believes that Thomas Dale could be in the thick of things again this season.
The schedule gets a little more difficult with the addition of Atlee and Riverbend, but that could give the Knights even more