Lady Bulldogs taking baby steps to build the program

Published 7:04 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Lady Bulldogs are in the infant stages of building their softball team under first-year coach Chase Lewis, but LaFayette is starting to see progress as the team came away with its first win of the season on Wednesday against Bullock County. 

The Bulldogs came out on top 15-14 on Wednesday, and it served as the team’s first win this season and just the second win for the program in seven seasons. 

“It was big time,” Lewis said. “Those girls needed that win… Our girls needed that. It’s a point to start the program. With our girls programs, everything is pretty young. Just letting them see some kind of victory to get them more familiar with the sport… it was perfect.” 

Email newsletter signup

LaFayette celebrated seniors Joy Robinson, Da’nayla Heard, Kylie Morgan, Eldimar Galban and Cynavia Mitchell. Wednesday marked the first time that the Bulldogs had celebrated senior night for the softball team. 

Despite the program being in the infant stages and going through growing pains, the players have been far from unenthusiastic.
The Bulldogs may not be winning a ton of games, but that would be hard to know based on the girls’ attitudes. Whether it is a close game or the team is struggling, LaFayette’s players have brought excitement and joy to the diamond. 

“The energy you see from them in the games, that’s what it’s like at practice,” Lewis said. “It’s good energy. The girls are just trying to get better. We’re in a tough area with Coosa, Reeltown and Horseshoe Bend. Being in a tough area and still finding a way to be positive and uplifting, that’s big.” 

Lewis is new to coaching softball, but he also serves as the boys basketball coach and volleyball coach at LaFayette. Lewis took the opportunity to coach the softball team out of necessity. The team needed a coach, and Lewis was one of the few willing to step up and take the role. 

Lewis has had to learn the game on the job, coming in with very little prior knowledge. He has had some help along the way, but the team and Lewis have been learning the sport together this season. 

“Pretty much learning together. I have a little bit of help as well,” Lewis said. “I come out in practice and just try to practice the things that I felt that we need to do to just survive the game. I feel like if we do what we need to do to keep it competitive, you keep that score close anything can happen.” 

Several of the players came in with very little experience. The group of seniors has brought the most experience to the team, and Lewis has relied on the elder statesmen to grow and develop some of the younger players. 

“For them to be seniors, Joy, Dan’ayla and Kylie, they have a lot of softball experience,” Lewis said. “They have played on the team, and they’re familiar with things here. It’s good to give them at least two wins before they graduate… They’re the start of what could be for the softball program here at LaFayette.” 

The biggest aspect of building the program for LaFayette at the moment is building the intrigue and love for the sport. Softball has not been a youth staple for the kids currently attending LaFayette High School, and Lewis hopes to see that change.
The youth baseball and softball programs are growing in LaFayette, and starting those kids young will just help the high school program reach new heights. 

Beyond playing the sport at the youth level, the high school kids need to be involved with the sport year-round. Lewis and the other coaches involved are looking to have a better summer and weight program. 

“This is not a sport you can pick up in February or March and say you’re going to be a good team,” Lewis said. “This is something you have to build, and it starts with the community. It starts with rec baseball… All of that matters if you want to have a successful softball program.” 

“You have to start young,” Lewis added. “You start basketball young, and the kids grow into it. Everything else has to be on that same level.” 

Lewis has emphasized making the sport fun in his first year as head coach. Practices are not fully focused on building strict fundamentals, they are instead focused on making the game fun and enjoying being out there with teammates. 

“Our practices are more fun than what you would call a more strict environment because we need to generate interest right now,” Lewis said.