CCHS Softball Starts Season with a Bang

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Will Hamilton, Staff writer

On August 8 at 4:45 PM, the Chamblee High School Lady Bulldogs softball team patiently sat waiting in the dugout. The first game of the season was scheduled to start in just 15 minutes, and yet their opponent, the Salem Seminoles, was nowhere to be found. While they did eventually arrive mere minutes before five o’clock, they would have been better off not showing up at all. The Lady Bulldogs dominated, defeating the Seminoles 13-1, picking up right where they left off last season.

“Last season, we won 22 games,” said Head Coach Alan Loper. “We also advanced to the second round of state playoffs for the first time in school history.”

Loper, who is going into his fourth year as the varsity softball coach, is very excited about this year’s team. He believed this team can be just as good as last year’s. The Lady Bulldogs started practicing during the third week of July. They battled through the rain and got in great practice, and are ready to play. The team is also very prepared due to a multitude of returning players.

“We have returning players at practically every position except pitcher,” Loper said.

And Loper was not kidding. Ten out of the 13 varsity Lady Bulldogs played on the varsity team last year, and two more were members of the JV team last year, including freshman Margaret Axelson, who played JV as an eighth grader.

Axelson will be stepping into a very important role. Although she is only a freshman, she will be depended on to be one the team’s leading pitchers. She was the team’s pitcher during the opening game against Salem, and only allowed one run. When asked if she was nervous going into the game, she replied that she had been playing since she was four and wasn’t that worried.

“I’m not that nervous. I’ve pitched in a lot of games,” Axelson said.

Axelson had a great first game, but she still has big shoes to fill. Carlin Waddell, who graduated from Chamblee last year, will be a pitcher for the softball team at Emory University in the fall. She was the star pitcher on the team, and finished her career at Chamblee having struck out 303 batters, pitched 205 innings, and allowed an average of only 1.660 runs per game. She also had 61 RBIs and a .420 batting average.

Waddell was invited back by Loper to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.

“It’s wonderful. She had a great career here, and we are honored to have her throw out the first pitch,” said Loper.

And for Waddell, it was a great honor.

“It means so much to me that Coach Loper would invite me back,” said Waddell. “The year before, Alexandra Towner was invited back to throw the first pitch and I looked up to her so much. To be able to do the same thing she did means the world. It’s an honor.”

Seniors Rachel Lovejoy and Anna Burke are the team captains, and both are great leaders for the team.

“Rachel has a whole year of captain experience from last year with me and the team has been left in great hands,” said Waddell.

Lovejoy also had one of the highlights of the game, hitting an inside the park home run. The team has very high hopes, and believes this strong start to their season is only the beginning.

“[Our] goals for this season are to win the region and go further in the playoffs than [we] went last year,” said Loper. “We are really excited about the team and if we play to our potential we are going to have a great season.”