The Berkeley Lady Stags want more in 2014.
In fact, they want it all.
They want to take their 2013 Region 8AAA softball title a step or two further this spring, first a repeat region title with their sights set on the big prize, a state championship in May.
“I know this team is capable of going to another level,” said Lady Stags Coach Boogie Grooms. “We just have to focus and tighten up. Our biggest thing is maintaining our focus. When the girls do that they can make some amazing plays.”
The defending Region 8AAA champs finished 15-3 during the regular season in 2013. The Lady Stags want to take the 2013 season and improve upon it, successfully defend their region crown, and advance deep into the playoffs.
“We set our goals for the season and they are rather lofty goals,” Grooms said. “Last year we set a goal of winning 15 games, which I didn’t think we’d do but we did.
“They wanted to juice it up this year ... to win 16 games, win the region, and win the state, but the biggest goal they set is no team drama this year.”
The Lady Stags split 2-2-1 at the recent Grand Slam Jam in Walterboro, playing sound softball in the preseason, but also showing there’s still work to be done before the regular season begins.
“We have a ways to go and we have to find that consistency on the field and in our mental prepartion,” Grooms said.
Grooms wants his team to finish the regular season strong and have some gas left in the tank come playoff time in May.
“It doesn’t matter how you start in high school it’s where you finish,” he said.
The Lady Stags are a young but experienced team with returning starters ranging from seniors to eighth graders.
The Lady Stags’ three returning seniors are Lexi Samples, Kelston Hilton, and Sydney Kizer. “I’m counting on our seniors to provide leadership out there,” Grooms said, “both on the field and in the locker room.”
Samples returns as the offensive catalyst after her junior season was cut short by a knee injury. During the off-season the senior leadoff hitter signed to play softball collegiately at Erskine.
Her coach expects her to have a breakout season this spring: “Nobody gets from home to first faster than Lexi. She’s quick out of the box and then seems to find a second gear during those last three strides to first. Nobody could get her out this past weekend.”
Around the horn Grooms will go with Payton Pinson at first; Peyton Svagerko moves across the diamond from third to second; Kinsey Hutto at short; and Jessica Stanley at third.
Blake Ponder moves from third to behind the plate and Brooklyn Stone toes the rubber in the center circle.
Around the outfield the Lady Stags line up Victoria Singletary, Samples and Hilton, left, center and right.
“I have a tenth grader in Olivia Hill that is making a lot of noise early on to get some playing time,” Grooms said.
Grooms said other players garnering playing time this spring are Olivia Grooms, Cameron Ling and seventh grader Brooklyn Stueness.
“Brooklyn is an amazing athlete and we’re getting her some work behind the plate,” Grooms said. “She has a bright future at Berkeley.”
The regular season begins for the Lady Stags on March 14 against West Ashley.