MILTON, Ga. — Cambridge softball will hit the field with a new title this year — defending state champions. Though a large core of that state title team has graduated, the Lady Bears will still have an abundance of talent in the 2017 season as they look to defend their region and state titles.
“We lost six seniors from last year’s team and all six played varsity all four years,” said Cambridge head coach Anna McDaniel. “They really were the heart and soul of the program but they taught younger girls a lot.”
Behind last year’s senior squad is another talent-heavy senior class, now with another year of experience.
Taylor ‘Taco’ Greene, who was named the state Class AAAAAA Player of the Year for 2016, returns for her senior campaign. Greene hit .475 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in 2016. McDaniel described Greene as “phenomenal” and said though Greene is a catcher, she can play well all over the field.
Second baseman Jensen Cheshire, third basemen Lindsey Smith, outfielder Daisey Valeo and pitcher Anna Allen make up the rest of Cambridge’s seniors.
The Lady Bears also return Cooch Carrol who was named All-Region 7-AAAAAA as a freshman last year.
“We have six returning seniors, so we will still have heavy senior leadership this season,” McDaniel said. “We also have a lot of good, young talent.”
Even with a strong roster, the lingering question for the Lady Bears is who will replace graduated starting pitcher and Gatorade Girls Player of the Year Keara Napoli.
Competition among the team will decide who gets the nod, McDaniel said.
“Our players knew we had a great starting pitcher last year, and we are going to need them to step up to fill that role,” she said.
But McDaniel and the Lady Bears won’t have much time to decide on an ace before the season begins.
GHSA rules mandate that softball teams cannot practice until Aug. 1. Cambridge’s first game is played just two weeks later.
That short time-frame adds pressure on the team to hit the road running, McDaniel said, with a focus on the Region 7-AAAAAA title.
“It takes a lot of hard work to get to where we were last year, and that was taking it one game at a time,” she said. “Our first goal is to win region and that will set us up for a playoff run.”
The Lady Bears open their season Aug. 14 against region-opponent Alpharetta.