With a veteran squad returning, the Hornets look to end its postseason drought in 2014.
“We had a good offseason working on fundamentals and conditioning to prepare for this year,” said Hornets’ head coach Michelle Caldwell.
Hiram returns one of the top players in the state, senior pitcher/first baseman Danielle Downs. She led the county in batting average (.605) and doubles (20) while recording 52 hits and 40 RBIs last season. Downs earned all-state first team honors.
“We’re expecting big things out of Danielle,” Caldwell said.
While Downs will spend the majority of the season as pitcher, the rest of the rotation will consist of junior Rebecca Mitchell and Macey Aikens. Senior Kayleigh Briant will be the Hornets’ starting catcher.
“We’re working hard and putting all of our effort into this upcoming season,” Briant said.
Caldwell has optimism about her deep infield which will start seniors, shortstop Rebecca Mitchell, second baseman Alexis Kelly and first baseman Emily Baxter. Junior Tori Horne will round out the unit starting at third base.
The infielders have taken on a leadership role for the Hornets.
“We’ve worked with the younger players this offseason by throwing with them,” Baxter said.
Senior right fielder Jinni Pethel had a strong campaign last season, hitting .356 at the plate with 31 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. She noted that “making the playoffs would mean a lot to us because we have a big senior class that’s graduating.”
Juniors Kendall Hardy and Karson Pirkle will round out the starting outfield.
Hiram also saw a change within its region in Class 5A as 2013 playoff squads Alexander and Chapel Hill from Douglas County are now included.
“The past two years we’ve been one game away from making the state tournament and haven’t gotten over that hump,” said Caldwell. “The postseason is obviously our goal and we have a hungry senior class.”
Hiram opens the season Friday at McEachern.