Family ties are key for Peach County softball team’s early success
Most coaches would prefer teams that feel like a family. They spend countless hours together practicing, playing and traveling to and from venues.
For Peach County softball head coach Michael Deese’s Trojans, family is more than just a feeling.
There is family woven into the fabric of this program. Miriam Grant is an assistant coach, and her little sister is Chloe Grant is a freshman backup catcher. Sophomore pitcher Josie Spradley is under the watchful eye of assistant coach, and big sister, Stephanie Spradley, who is a former pitcher at Peach County. In 2014, the elder Spradley helped lead the team to a second-round playoff appearance.
The most intriguing pairing of sisters on the team has to be senior Elizabeth Hickey and her sister freshman Catherine. The sisters play second base and shortstop and bat second and third in the lineup. Deese does not hide his interest in this unique dynamic, he feels benefits both players.
“It’s fun to watch them talk with each other at practice because both of them know a good bit about ball,” Deese said. “So if we are hitting ground balls, they are constantly criticizing each other trying to make each other better, to the point that you would think there is some type of sibling rivalry. But, for the most part, it looks like they are feeding off each other.”
This is the first, and potentially only, chance that Elizabeth and Catherine have to play together, and they seem to be enjoying the opportunity.
“It’s been a lot of fun because I know that she’s always got my back,” Catherine said about playing with her older sister. “She helps me to stay positive and do my best.”
It’s easy to hear the pride in Elizabeth’s voice when she talks about the opportunity to play with Catherine.
“It’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty cool. We’ve always practiced together, but it is different being with her on the field,” Elizabeth said.
While they enjoy playing together, at the end of the day they are still sisters, and with siblings, there can be competition. They both admit to being very competitive with each other, but both believe it is positive and helps to fuel the fire they need to do their very best.
That was evident during the Trojans’ first six games as they began the season 6-0, and despite a three-game-losing streak, the team is off to a blistering start at the plate. Entering Tuesday’s games with Rutland, seven players were batting .320 or better.
Elizabeth was leading the team in runs scored (13), and her 12 RBI were second only to Catherine (14). That success has come despite injuries to sophomore Abby Hatchett and freshman Alex Scott.
Despite the individual success, Deese seems more impressed with the humility of his players and their willingness to invest in the team first.
“The one thing about our girls that I like is they’re not all about their averages or their stats, and I talked to (third baseman Alanie Chandler) about it, and she said she’s just worried about getting wins,” Desse said.
Deese didn’t seem too concerned about the recent losing streak. In fact, he seems confident in his team’s chances this season despite only having three seniors and a junior on the roster.
“I’m ready to compete for it (a GHSA Region 4-3A title) now,” Deese said without hesitation.
Elizabeth, who is a vocal leader on the team, echoed her coach’s confidence.
“I think we could get the region championship, as long as we play our best game,” she said.