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Photos by Kyle Parmley.
Shortstop Anna Donohue is shown in a game against Homewood on March 6.
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Photos by Kyle Parmley.
Caroline Campbell is one of many young players for Briarwood, as a freshman pitcher.
Opposing teams need be wary of the Briarwood Christian School softball team this season.
Despite having a program small in numbers, the middle of the Briarwood lineup is anything but miniscule.
Look at the Lions’ home opener on March 6 as Exhibit A.
In the 17-5 win over Homewood, Briarwood showcased a dynamic lineup, including some thunder from the middle of the order. Anna Donohue, Riley Coyne, Taylor Wheat and Daryl Deeter all tallied extra-base hits on the evening, including back-to-back home runs from Coyne and Wheat in the fourth inning.
“It felt great,” Wheat said, noting that it was the second time she has pulled off the feat with a lineup mate.
“We came out pretty strong,” Coyne said. “This game, we lagged a little in the beginning, but we knew our bats were going to come around.”
That thump from the middle of the lineup turned a four-run game into one entering run-rule territory in the blink of an eye. The eight runs the Lions scored in the fourth inning extended the lead to 12, and a three-up, three-down fifth inning allowed Briarwood to go home happy winners.
One remarkable thing about Briarwood is its ability to mesh, even with a large age gap between athletes.
“We don’t have a (junior varsity) or middle-school team, so we’ve got girls that are seventh-graders up to juniors,” said Doug Lamon, a longtime assistant at Briarwood now in his second year as head coach.
In that game against Homewood, freshman Caroline Campbell started the game on the mound and was relieved by seventh-grader Cameron Fountain in the middle innings.
“When I say we’re young, we’re really young in key spots,” Lamon said. “They’re maturing and doing a good job. As we go along, I’m hoping that we’ll develop a little more chemistry.”
With that age diversity, it becomes paramount that the older heads on the team become more vocal and take on leadership roles, something that has presented itself early on.
“We’re growing really quickly right now,” Coyne said. “In practice, I can see us talking to each other a lot more. We’re getting more comfortable with each other on the field. I just can’t wait to see what the future holds, with us growing as a team.”
Lamon calls some of the more experienced players “on-field coaches,” which should prove extremely beneficial in the long run, as Lindsay Dick is the only senior on the team.
“They’ve done a good job of accepting the young ones as part of the team,” he said.
Deeter, Coyne and Donohue are part of a strong junior class that also includes Abigail Anderson. Wheat is just a sophomore. Speedy outfielder Lydia Coleman is in eighth grade. Alden Denard, Natalie Harmon, Ella Hodges, Hannah Messer, SaraGrace Prophitt and Jaddin Glenn make up the rest of the roster.
Coyne said everyone contributes to the team in their roles, whether that is as a top player or a supporting one, and Wheat believes if the Lions continue to focus on fundamentals, then their goals will be within reach at the end of the season.
Those goals are to make the regionals, as the top two teams will advance from Class 5A, Area 8 competition from Moody, Sylacauga and Shelby County.
“This year, we’re in a really tough area,” Lamon said. “It’s going to be a lot tougher for us. But our goals, no matter how difficult they may be, they’re still the same.”