“Everybody that was on varsity last year and didn’t graduate is coming back,” he said. “I don’t think we have any new transfers or anything. We have some good young kids coming up. We have three or four spots to fill from JV or incoming freshmen.”
Creekview graduated four key players from 2013 in Cynda Tate, Tiffany Godfrey, Ashley Chumbler and Taylor Petty. The group accounted for nearly half of the Lady Grizzlies’ runs scored, and more than a third of their RBIs.
“We will have to manufacture some runs,” Cain said. “We still have some girls that can swing the bats a good bit.”
Among the returners Cain will count on are pitcher Gracie Dorr, infielder Casee Disharoon, outfielders Madison Dionne and Tiffany Jordan and utility player Annie Conrad.
Dorr struck out 130 batters last season, finishing with an 18-5 record over more than 144 innings. She sported a 1.50 ERA, allowing just 31 earned runs and walking only 21.
“We are ready to get back in it and battle,” Cain said. “They are excited. It’s a good group of seniors who have good chemistry, and I think they will lead our team to victory, so to speak.”
Cain said part of Creekview’s success comes from the traditions that are passed down. When players arrive from the middle-school or junior varsity program, they know they will be expected to compete at a high level.
“The kids do it,” Cain said. “They come to practice every day. I don’t think, from a coaching aspect, we do anything. We just manage the kids the best we can. They understand their roles and the competition and what it takes to succeed.”
Last year, Creekview advanced to the state playoffs after winning the Region 7AAAAA championship. After a tough battle with Woodland-Bartow in the opening round, the Lady Grizzlies eased past Apalachee to advance to Columbus as one of the top eight teams in Class AAAAA.
Once in Columbus, Creekview was shut out in consecutive games by Northgate and Effingham County.
Cain said the Lady Grizzlies’ goal isn’t just to return to Columbus, but to perform better when they’re on that stage. He feels the players weren’t prepared to play on the road and stay in hotels after playing the first two rounds at home.
In order to prepare for possibility this year, Creekview will be taking a long trip to Valdosta as part of its regular-season schedule, in which the team will spend the night at a hotel.
“Get a little taste of that and, hopefully, it will benefit us down the road,” Cain said. “Last year, I think we were a little scattered when we got to Columbus and, maybe, this will help us a little bit.”
Another change for the Lady Grizzlies was the implementation of a weight-training program during the summer.
“It was the first year that we did a weight room, and our strength and conditioning coach did all of that,” Cain said. “He worked them out twice a week, and then we had another guy come in and put them through agility stuff. They were receptive to it and they bought in. By the end of the summer, we could see a difference. We are pumped and ready to get things going.”
Creekview will enter a Region 7AAAAA that’s changed quite a bit after reclassification and realignment. The Lady Grizzlies will be joined by county rivals River Ridge and Sequoyah in one subregion, along with Woodland, Dalton, Rome and Cass in one subregion. The other subregion will consist of North Atlanta, North Springs, Riverwood, Forsyth Central, Kell, Sprayberry and Cambridge.
Cain said no region game will be an easy win.
“With 14 teams, it’s going to be a dogfight to get to the state playoffs,” Cain said. “Hopefully, we can be in the top four and get our foot in the door to Columbus.”