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Softball teams kick off season with Lanier Point Invitational

Twenty-one squads taking part in two-day event

POSTED: August 7, 2013 10:21 p.m.

West Hall softball coach Adam Rich has a perfect opportunity to get a feel for his new environment by having the Lady Spartans compete this weekend in the 12th annual Lanier Point Invitational.

Rich, a new coach to the area after spending the last six years at Chiles High in Tallahassee, Fla., will see a few region opponents and several other foes he’ll become accustomed to when his team competes in the two-day, 21-team regular season kickoff at Ivey-Watson Field on Friday and Saturday, which includes every Hall County softball program.

In a way, he feels the Lady Spartans hold an advantage because of his newcomer status among area softball teams.

“It’s great, especially for me, because I don’t know the girls, the teams or the coaching styles,” Rich said. “On the other hand, that’s a nice thing about me – I’m kind of a mystery too. It’s going to be neat to see where we are and gauge the area for talent, and see what all the summer has led to and where the chips are right now.”

Rich brings an impressive coaching resume with him to West Hall, which finished 10-16 in 2012. He made the playoffs four times at Chiles, including a pair of state semifinal appearances in 2011 and 2012.

Is it enough to handle the grind of every Hall County team in a two-day span?

That’s up to his players, who are relatively young with just four seniors among them.

“It’s the first time that we’re 100 percent playing to win,” Rich said. “You want to find out how they react to that situation. It’s the first time we’re actually looking to win and not just playing to play.”

The round-robin invitational is played across all four fields, with games beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.

At 21 teams, the tournament is one of the state’s largest softball gatherings.

Joining Hall County’s teams are defending tournament champion Dawson County, as well as fellow Region 7-AAA opponent Banks County. Rabun County, East Jackson, Commerce, Fannin County, Union County and Habersham Central are also scheduled to appear.

Gwinnett County is represented by Norcross, Lanier and Duluth. Other Atlanta area teams playing are Johns Creek and Dunwoody.

“We’ve played some summer ball, so I’ve played some of the team,” Rich said. “Teams are different from year to year, so I don’t read much into it. You’ve heard of a couple of the teams, but as for how to pitch to them or who to pitch around, or how to attack the team, I’m behind the eight-ball there.”

Rich will have plenty of chances to get his first scouting reports over the two days. All four of West Hall’s opponents are in higher classifications, beginning with Oakwood rival Johnson on Friday.

On Saturday, the Lady Spartans will face a pair of Class AAAAAA opponent, Johns Creek and Duluth, before wrapping up play against host Gainesville.

“It’s just a great way to find out a lot of information about your team,” Rich said. “You get four games right away to test some different philosophies.”


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