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Stepping up to the plate

By By Adam Prestridge
Most high school athletic teams rely on seniors for leadership.
The Escambia County High School varsity softball team may lack seniors this year, but the Lady Blue Devils boast plenty of leadership. The junior players have filled that void left by graduating players, helping lead the Lady Blue Devils to a 6-3 record thus far this season.
First-year head coach William Casaday said the dedication shown by his upperclassmen has played a pivotal role in the team’s success this year.
Shortstop Latesha Lee, centerfielder Courtney English and pitcher Raven Culliver have led the Lady Blue Devils on and off the field this season as they have taken on the role of leaders.
English said she was confident heading into the season.
The trio has made it a point to communicate with their fellow teammates and keep them focused on the season at hand.
Lee believes that the lack of communication is the Lady Blue Devils’ weakness this season, but she does not limit that just to the softball diamond.
Culliver added that she was also confident heading into this season despite having a new coach because of the team’s family-like relationship.
Casaday agrees that having a close-knit team is key for any program to succeed.
The Lady Blue Devils have not played a game in six days and are not scheduled to play again until Monday when they travel to Jackson for a key area match up. Staying focused and continuing to build on the momentum of the last couple of games will be a challenge for Casaday.
Culliver knows the importance of staying focused this week with such a long period off and said she is going to do her part in keeping her teammates focused.
English stressed that communication will be key for the Lady Blue Devils to continue where they left off once play resumes next week.
Being fundamentally sound will also play a key part in the team’s success the second half of the season, Lee said.
“We’ve got to step up, come together as a team and we’ve got to hit,” she said. “Our defense is good, we’ve just got to hit, everyone is going to have to step up and hit.”
As for how far the Lady Blue Devils can go this season, all three girls believe the team can win the Class 4A state title.
Casaday does not believe the thought of a state title is a farfetched aspiration for his team.
The team’s work ethic and desire to win could be the right ingredients for the Lady Blue Devils to make a state title run.
As for this season, Casaday is pleased with the strides made by his players, but said there are a lot of games still left to play.