For Savannah Huffstetler and the Lady Longhorns, it’s all or nothing.
The junior second baseman has done her part in ensuring Lambert a 5-0 start to the softball season, as she boasts a jaw-dropping .850 batting average. But it’s not just Huffstetler carrying the team; the Lady Longhorns are averaging 10.8 runs per game en route to outscoring opponents 54-10.
"I did well," Huffstetler said. "I don’t know if I can keep up .850, but I just work every day. I know I’m better than I was last year defensively and as a hitter, so I think if I play how I’ve been playing, I’ll be just fine.
"I expect a region championship. It’s that or bust, basically. Our region is really strong, so it’s not going to be anything easy, but if we don’t win it, we’ll be disappointed."
Huffstetler isn’t new to success. She finished the 2012 season with a .326 batting average and was named to the All-County team along with four of her teammates, who all returned for another year.
Junior outfielder Maddie Butz touted a team-high .426 batting average, while senior shortstop Megan Whitlatch’s .500 OBP was the third highest in the county. Reigning Pitcher of the Year, senior Kassie Howard, pitched 13 complete games and flaunted a miniscule 1.89 ERA in the circle.
"I expect to throw a lot of strikes and not walk any batters so that I can just let the defense work," Howard said. "It gives me a lot of confidence that we have a strong defense behind me.
"I just keep working spins and keep locating my pitches. I expect us to go further this year because I think we have a lot more experience and can just build from it."
The Lady Longhorns return every starter from last year’s team that finished the year 23-10 and made the playoffs for the first time in program history, making head coach Dana Corr’s job a bit easier.
"They know what to do," Corr said. "They show up to practice and know exactly what you expect from them, so, you know, it’s fun. You just have to reinforce what you do because every team is different and we have a system that we do here. So, each year we just reinforce it now that they’re juniors and seniors. They know exactly how we lead off, how we expect them to run the bases, how we expect them to take the field on and off and hustle, so it just makes our job easier for sure."
The young Lambert squad experienced some growing pains after starting the season 20-3, as they lost seven of their last 10 games to end the season with a loss to North Gwinnett in the Class 6A first round. Despite their early exit, Corr has gotten the team to move past the loss and relax a bit more.
"The girls are so upbeat and positive and are just having fun," Corr said. "…They work hard, but when they hit the field it’s all business, but other than that, they just have fun. I feel like sometimes if you’re really stressed or timid, that’s when the errors come and that’s when people buckle under pressure.
"We set goals every year and try to do better than we did last year, so we hope to make it to the state playoffs again and maybe take it little bit further, but our goal is to play each game as a championship and see where it takes us."