The 2020 softball season will usher in the dawning of a new age for Cobb County athletics, Pope High School and the Pope Fastpitch softball team as the new re-classification cycle has moved Pope into region 6-AAAAAA consisting of an All Cobb County region made up of 9 Cobb County schools. After sustaining success in region 7-AAAAAA where the Greyhounds won 3 consecutive region championships (2017, 2018, and 2019), the Greyhounds move into the new ultra competitive region 6 as the region is comprised of 4 other playoff teams from the 2019 season in Lassiter, Kennesaw Mountain, Kell, and Sprayberry, as well as perennial softball power house Allatoona. The rest of the region is rounded out with Osborne, South Cobb, and Wheeler who will not be playing a region softball schedule in 2020. This is the 1st time in school history that Pope has competed in a region made up of solely Cobb County schools.
The Greyhounds will enter this new region coming off of a banner 2019 season that saw the Hounds capture their 4th region championship (2012, 2017, 2018, 2019) as well as the 2nd state championship (2014) for the softball program and the Hounds will enter the season riding a program best 23 game winning streak that culminated in a perfect September and October with a state Championship tournament sweep in Columbus that ended in unique fashion on the campus of Pope High after the state championship game was postponed due to rain. The 2019 season also saw the Hounds eclipse the 30 win mark for the 3rd consecutive season (5th time overall) as the Hounds posted a program best winning % of .882 with their 30-4 record. The trip to Columbus was the 7th trip for the Hounds in the last 8 seasons and the 30 wins marks the 5th time in the last 7 seasons that the Hounds have accomplished this feat.
Approaching the 30 win mark in 2020 will be a tall task for the Greyhounds as the 2020 schedule is one of the more challenging schedules ever tackled by the Hounds with 14 of the 21 opponents for the Hounds making the playoffs in 2019 with 3 of the opponents advancing to Columbus and 5 other opponents advancing to the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Hounds will also have to enter this season without the members of the 2019 graduating class who amassed 119 wins in their 4 year careers and graduated 6 talented student athletes that made a significant impact on the field and in a leadership capacity for the Hounds.
Four year letter winners Carolyn Deady and Zoe Laneaux have moved on to play collegiately at Georgia State and South Carolina respectively. Both Deady and Laneaux represent a large chuck of offense that must be replaced as they are 1 and 2 all time in career homeruns and RBI’s and are both in the top 3 in career slugging % and on base % and top 4 in batting average. The Hounds will also have to overcome the loss of 3 year letter winner and GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR award winner Alyssa Eman who provided important depth at 1b and in the OF as well as great leadership along with the depth and leadership of Lela Landry (OF), Maura Foreman (OF), Mackenzie Pease (infield).
To fill the holes left by the 2019 senior class, the Greyhounds return 11 players from the 2019 championship team with 10 of these having significant playing time in 2019 and 7 players being full time starters for the Hounds. The Greyhounds will also welcome back the return of accomplished 2018 all region varsity player Kaitlyn Wells who had to miss the 2019 season due to injury. Of the 11 returning players, 3 of these players were named 1st team AAAAAA GACA All State in 2019: Jadyn Laneaux (OF), Bailey Chapin (1b), and STATE PITCHER OF THE YEAR HALLIE ADAMS (P). Adams and Chapin were also named to the Junior All State game (the most prestigious honor a GACA player can receive). Adams posted an incredible 23-2 record pitching record with a .94 ERA and over 200K’s and Chapin hit an astounding .468 with 49 RBI’s and 13 HRs. IN all, the 2019 roster will be comprised of 5 seniors, 4 juniors, 3 sophomores, 2 freshman.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS
Pitching should be a strength for the Hounds in 2019 as the staff returns 100% of it’s innings from a year ago. The Hounds return senior Adams, who in her region and state pitcher of the year season compiled an incredible run through the final 2 months of the season surrendering only 5 runs over the course of her final 93 innings pitched with only 4 of the runs being earned. Senior Morgan Herman also returns off being named 2nd team all region in 2019 and posting a 7-2 record for the Hounds. The pitching staff will be bolstered by talented freshman Kendall Frost who should add quality innings for the Hounds and junior Cara Levy who can also step in to add quality innings when needed.
Behind the dish for the Hounds will be the talented sophomore duo of Emily Ricci and Natalie Klingler. Ricci logged varsity games at catcher last year for the Hounds working with both Herman and Adams and gives the team a hard-nosed grinder behind the plate. Klinger earned the starting DP job for the Hounds in 2019 starting in September after she impressed with her catching and hitting abilities for the JV Hounds in the month of August. Both players also started games in the infield for the Hounds. Junior Katie Ward who has also been a battery-mate of Adams’ in 2018 may log innings when Ricci and Klingler need a breather.
The Hounds return 3 starters in the infield led by starting All State 1st baseman Bailey Chapin. Chapin started 95% of all games at 1st base last season where she was a stalwart defensively and catalyst for the Greyhounds offense. Talented Freshman Kailey Martin has also shown prowess at 1st and may log some innings both at 1st base and designated player as well as fill in at 3b when Ward catches. Junior Cara Levy will also compete for innings at 1st base. 2nd base will once again be anchored by the reliable junior Peyton McCormack. McCormack burst on the scene in 2019 to hit .360 and making only 2 errors the entire season. Junior Katie Ward will reprise her role at 3b this season. Ward is a 2 time All Region player (OF in 2018, 3b 2019) and was all state in 2018. Ward has tremendous power evidenced by her 10 career HRs and has lightning quick reflexes at 3b and a strong throwing arm. Kendall Frost could also see some innings at 3b when she is not in the circle. SS position will be defended by senior Abby Rocco, sophomore Jadyn Laneaux, or Ricci. Rocco is a returning all region OF who moves to her natural SS position with the graduation of Zoe Laneaux. Rocco was a .304 hitter for the Hounds last year and logged infield innings at 2nd base when not in the outfield. Jadyn Laneaux played significant time in 2019 at SS (when not in CF) and played excellently making multiple highlight reel plays and Ricci logged significant innings at 2b for the Hounds in 2019.
The Hounds have arguably the strongest outfield the program has ever seen and one of the strongest outfield contingents in the state of Georgia. Sophomore All State player Jadyn Laneaux will anchor the outfield logging innings in CF when not at SS. Laneaux is coming off a freshman campaign where she set a single season batting average record with her .571 average and single season stolen base record with 28 stolen bases. Senior Kaitlyn Wells also returns for the Hounds and will log innings in both CF and RF. The strong-armed Wells possesses a power and speed combination that makes her a lethal player. She last hit .374 with 5 HRs and 38 RBIs her sophomore year in 2018 prior to an injury that forced her to miss the 2019 campaign. Junior Kate East returns for her 3rd year on varsity and will see time in RF, LF, and DP for the Hounds. East is coming off a season where she logged a .475 OBP as the starting RF for the Hounds and she is a threat to reach base every time she comes to the plate. Junior Cara Levy will be in the outfield mix as she is a solid hitter and defender and will compete for innings in LF. Chapin may also return to the OF where she was the starting LF for the 2017 Hounds and Rocco may see time in the OF as well as she was the starting LF for the 2019 Hounds and an all-region performer.
The Hounds open their season at 7:15 on August 11th vs. Woodstock and open Region play at Lassiter on August 18th.