Southside softball ready to defend its title

Published 7:27 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
One year after winning their first eve Atlantic Conference title, the Southside softball team is ready to swing back into action and defend its crown.
As if the bullseye placed square on their backs isn’t enough to overcome, the Seahawks will also have to make their run at a repeat without star pitcher Gabby Cilluffo.
Cilluffo, who graduated last summer, went 19-5 with over 200 strikeouts as she led the Seahawks to a 19-5 record and into the third round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs.
This year Southside’s four seniors will have to pick up the slack for the departed Cilluffo. Mandi Harding, D.D. Stanley, Kelly Hardison and Emily Smith will all be asked to do their part as team leaders.
Perhaps the biggest burden might fall on Smith, who will be replacing Cilluffo as the team’s top pitcher. Though their styles vary, Lohman thinks Smith can come in and do a good job of replacing Cilluffo.
Smith may not be the same kind of power pitcher Cilluffo was, but with a strong defense behind her she doesn’t need to be.
Though they lack varsity experience, Lohman said that he is confident his trio of Baily Hobbs, Caitlyn Bogart and Becky Poole can get the job done.
Taking of the catching position is sophomore Shakira Lomax. As a freshman, Lomax got some time late in the season at right field and finished with a .500 batting average. The Seahawks are hoping she can continue to provide a spark in the lineup.
While the Seahawks have a pretty well balanced team, Lohman said the strength of this team is it’s unity.
The Seahawks will begin their quest for back-to-back Atlantic Conference titles today when they host Pamlico at 4:30 p.m.