THOMASVILLE — Thomas County Central’s road to a Region 1-AAAA leads through Lee County.

Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they have five seniors behind the steering wheel.

Central’s senior class includes pitchers Erin Searcy and Jessica Fuller, right fielder Annie Reichert, third baseman/shortstop Lauren Saunders and catcher Halie Diers. Coach Rick Green is hopeful this group of five can lead the Jackets to a region crown.

“(The team has) worked hard this summer,” Green said. “We’re making progress year to year.

“I feel good about our pitchers,” added Green.

Central’s pitching staff is highlighted by Searcy, last year’s region pitcher of the year. In her final season as a Yellow Jacket, is there any reason to think Searcy can’t repeat last year’s feat? Not according to Green.

“It’s all up to her,” said Green. “She’s got the ability.”

Searcy is not the only all-region performer returning for the Yellow Jackets. Junior Alexx Smith was a first-team shortstop, while Saunders was a second-team third baseman. Smith is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, but was on the field Tuesday and appears fully recovered.

“She’s hitting the ball like ol’ Alexx,” said Green.

Central begins its ’06 schedule Aug. 18 with the Georgia Leadoff Classic. Green said there will be 18 teams participating in the tournament at Remington Park.

“It lets them see a lot of good softball,” added Green.

“There will be 50-something ball games played in two days.”

The tournament should gear the Yellow Jackets up for the region schedule. With the region down to four teams, Central will play Lee County, Bainbridge and Americus-Sumter three times. Green insisted the Trojans were the preseason favorite.

“They lost a couple of seniors, but they just fill in,” Green said.

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