3/26/14 EA softball ranked #1 in the state
Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise
EA softball ranked #1 in the state
By Karen Carter, Enterprise Editor The Mebane Enterprise 3/26/14
Reprinted with permission.
Eastern Alamance High School head softball coach Danny Way said the 2014 season for the Lady Eagles began by building on the success of last year’s team: a 24-6 record, a victory in the fourth-round state playoff game, reaching the 3A final four in the state playoffs, playing a series for the Regional Championship, and bringing home a Regional Runner-up trophy for their accomplishments.
“It was our first time going into the finals,” said Way. “They (Conley High School of Greenville) celebrated on our field; we took that loss. My upcoming seniors went right into the weight room in June.”
Eastern opened up the weight room for the upcoming ninth graders coming in from Woodlawn and Hawfields Middle Schools.
The 2014 team worked hard in the off season, said Way, working out six days a week, coming in at 7 a.m. on Saturdays.
“Twenty (20) kids wore t-shirts, ate together every Saturday morning,” said Way. “When school started, they practiced every afternoon. I knew this team could be ranked as high as number one.”
When the polls came out, the Lady Eagles were ranked number one and have worked to “maintain” it, said Way.
Normal practices, going into the weight room two or three times a week for 15 minutes has paid off, said Way, to give the student-athletes “endurance.”
“Coach Brad Warren helped us know what to do in the weight room to maintain our strength,” said Way.
Way said with “really good kids and senior leadership,” his coaches Sammy Ballard and Tiffany Helton give a lot of commitment and the Lady Eagles are “buying into” the program.
Managers Stephen Yarborough and Ashley Lawrence are committed to giving the team what they need, said Way.
The athletes “run” in practice and Coach Tiffany said strength comes both in pitching and hitting, the pitching of senior Gracyn Allen-Ingle and 21 home runs hit in the 2013 season.
Way said this year’s team shows additional strengths: “Attitude is big. We have kids that can play multiple positions. They’ve bought into our program.”
Before practice everyday, the Lady Eagles run a mile, staying under eight minutes a mile, said Way.
On Thursday, the day of this interview, they were practicing the wheel barrel, hitting 1,200 balls in 30 minutes.
Doing navies, that is a sprint, squat, and back paddle exercise 10 feet, then 20, 30 and so on.
“It’s torture,” said Allen-Ingle.
The seniors—Allen Ingle, Lauren Taylor, Milayn Dark, and Zöe Wood—spoke with the Enterprise about their leadership on the team and the prospects for the season.
“We have a lot of talent; I’m so excited; I’m pumped,” said Allen-Ingle.
“No doubt we’ll go far, farther than last year.”
Allen-Ingle, a captain, said she can criticize, help, and encourage, but her best leadership is by “example,” backing up what she says by what she does.
Wood said, with the ranking of number one in the state, teams are coming out to get them. “We have to be on our ‘A’ game.”
“It feels good,” said Taylor. “We really have expectations of each other.
People watching us have high expectations. We have good potential. We have to pull together.”
Dark talked about how up to now, the team had never been in the top ten, a lot of pressure and weight on their shoulders, but they are up for the challenge.
“We started off with one of the toughest schedules, and played a good game, jumping on the first pitch, playing good defense and killing the ball,” said Dark.
They pull for each other in the dugout.
“We have it in our minds we will win. We’re focused,” said Dark.
“We don’t give up,” said Wood.
Allen-Ingle said good pitching does not stop them, contributing both offensively with home runs and defensively with good pitching.
“I’m really excited,” said Taylor. “As a senior, my leadership role means encouraging and helping each other. We’re all capable of something special.”
The seniors asked that EA fans to come out and support them, cheer them on, see some good games, superior competition, and help them win a state championship.
On the 2014 roster are #8 Caroline Patterson (center field), #13 Zöe Wood (catcher), #23 Gracyn Allen-Ingle (pitcher), #24 Milayn Dark (third), #9 Leah Jarrett (second), #15 Alyssa Dean, #17 Blake Overman (short stop), #12 Emilee Hawks (right field), #2 Lauren Taylor (left field), #5 Emily Shotwell (first), #27 Michaela Walker, #6 Kelly Everett, #11 Lauren Armand, #4 Cheyenne Wynn, #1 Ally Shae Loy, and #20 Hannah Stictner.