THOMASVILLE — A return to a more normal summer schedule is paying dividends for Thomas County Central's softball team.

Lady Jackets coach Robyn Trammell said the return to normalcy this year following last summer being interrupted by COVID-19 has been a relief for her players. They've practiced and played in tournaments without fear of their summer being disrupted by a pandemic.

“It's nice for them to be able to relax and get to enjoy the season in a more relaxed setting and not be so nervous about different things,” Trammell said. “We're excited. I'm excited for them. I'm excited for our senior class.”

Four seniors return this year to lead the Lady Jackets. All will play a key role in Central trying to exceed last year's success that ended in the quarterfinal round of the Class AAAA playoffs. The seniors include pitcher Kaylee Barrett, shortstop Emily Hobbs, and outfielders Olivia McIntyre and Emma Mitchell.

“All four of them have been varsity starters and played a big role in our success,” Trammell said. “I'm excited for them to enjoy their senior year.”

Central lost just one senior from last year, Morgan Kirkendoll. She was the team's leadoff batter and starting center fielder. With most of the starting spots already locked up, this summer has been more about players trying out different positions than maybe they've been accustomed to.

“So far we've had a great summer, moving people around and letting everybody play, just seeing what everybody can do and where,” Trammell said. “Just teaching the girls that it's a team sport and they have to play for one another. Sometimes when you do that, you might have to play somewhere you're not used to or just fill in here, fill in there. We've got a great group of girls, and we're excited for the regular season.”

The first date that softball teams can hold fall practice is Aug. 1, as mandated by the Georgia High School Association.

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