Photo by Derrick Mahone
Dutchtown senior Tori Nelson has been a starter on the varsity since her freshman season at the school.
The last three seasons, Tori Nelson and Sydney Gunby have experienced their lumps on the Dutchtown softball team.
Last season, the team’s only won three games, and the year before that, the Bulldogs went winless.
This season, Dutchtown is experiencing success. Heading into Thursday’s region game against visiting Upson-Lee, the Bulldogs were 3-0 on the young season.
“Our two seniors have been working and leading us,” Dutchtown coach Sam Coley said. “This group is learning how and what it takes to win.”
Coley admits that his team’s re-classification in a new region has played a big part in their success. No longer are they in a region with powerhouse teams like Union Grove, Ola, Jones County, Whitewater and Northgate.
But that doesn’t mean that Region 4-AAAA is not without talented teams because Woodland and Locust Grove are in the league.
“This new region is more on our level,” Nelson said. “We feel real confident going into each game.”
Part of that confidence comes from having a standout pitcher in Tiara Scott, who has thrown no-hitters in the team’s first two games. The sophomore also had a home run on the evening that she threw a perfect game against Henry County.
“She has really improved a lot from last season,” Nelson said. “You can see that she has more confidence. She is really helping the seniors out because she knows how much we want to have a good year.”
Because the school has no junior varsity program, Coley says the team has been forced to play a lot of younger players earlier in their careers. This year’s roster is composed of four freshmen, four sophomores, four juniors and two seniors.
“They are being thrown into the fire early,” Coley said. “It came be to our advantage because once they become seniors, they have gotten the fear out of the way. They are used to playing against varsity competition.”
Aside from the solid pitching of Scott, the team has benefited from improvement at the plate. Coley said that last season the team averaged about seven strikeouts per game; so far, the team has had only one batter to strikeout in the first three games.
“This team has come together this season,” Gunby said. “I think we have a lot more confidence in ourselves and in each other.”