Murray County’s Lady Indians are looking forward to their upcoming softball season, which they’ll launch on Aug. 13 with a home game against Southeast.

There’s certainly no reason to look back at 2006, a season in which Murray County finished 6-25 overall and 2-7 in Region 5-5A.

“The biggest thing (about last season) was the feeling that we just couldn’t compete,” Lady Indians coach Kim Richards said. “And when you have that feeling, that ride down to Atlanta was really long. You can just imagine what the ride back to Chatsworth was like.”

In those 25 losses, the Lady Indians were shut out 16 times; Pickens County no-hit them in a 3-0 victory.

As a team, Murray County batted an anemic .119, an average that would have been closer to .100 had senior Jessica Defore not batted .463.

According to statistics provided by Lady Indians assistant coach Bob Spear, Defore had a .452 on-base percentage, while the team sputtered at .292. Murray County had 218 runners in scoring position last season, but collected just 90 hits in those situations and stranded 134 runners. Defore hit .813 with runners in scoring position.

“It’s something we’ve talked about and studied because we’ve known our weakness is hitting,” Richards said. “The offseason before 2006 they hit great and then in the season it was like they fell apart. It was the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”

In addition to a lack of offense last season, which put added pressure on the team’s pitching and defense, Richards had to dismiss “a couple of seniors,” and that fractured team unity.

“That’s something that should never have happened,” Richards said. “That caused a lot of disheartening factors for the girls. Our chemistry is better now.”

Richards will count on catcher Jennifer Bagley, the team’s lone senior, to provide a lot of leadership this year, a role she tried to fill as a junior.

Bagley is more prepared to lead this year.

“There’s not much you can do when a couple of players decide to have bad attitudes,” Bagley said. “This year we’re going to pull together and stay together.”

Bagley played summer travel team called, interestingly, the Georgia Attitudes. They won a state championship and finished third in a “world series” tournament in Panama City, Fla.

As for this season, Richards said Sarah Kilgore and freshman Shelby Wilbanks are battling for the starting job at third base. She also said Cayla Brock looks solid at shortstop, while Baili DeFoor is at second base and Cassie Noland at first base.

Jennifer Manis, Courtney Welch and Brandi Norman — all sophomores — could fill outfield positions.

Katy Gregg is the Lady Indians’ front-line pitcher. Despite the team’s poor win-loss record in 2006, Gregg had a 2.96 ERA and recorded all six wins a year ago.

“We’ve actually got some very decent pitchers,” Richards said. “Katy is our main pitcher and Sarah (Kilgore) is right behind her.”

Kilgore — a sophomore who missed last season with injuries and surgery — is expected to be a solid backup, while Manis, a left-hander, and Wilbanks may also see time on the mound.

Richards said a “few more” members of a talented freshman class may wind up contributing to the varsity squad this season.

The Lady Indians will scrimmage Gilmer County on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Chatsworth before opening against Southeast.

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