Being South Forsyth’s first new head softball coach in almost 20 years wasn’t the original plan for Leanne Brooks.
The former South player and five-year assistant under longtime head coach Ronnie Davis was actually getting ready to step down after tryouts in May, but right after she did, Davis stepped down as well. Suddenly, South’s long-filled head coaching vacancy was open, and Brooks began to think about the girls she’d known for years.
“Coaching is all about the girls (and) the relationships,” Brooks said. “I hated the thought of them losing myself and Davis in the same year, and I couldn't do it. It was hard stepping down after tryouts, having the relationship with the girls. Nothing like that is easy. When the position made itself available, I was going to give it my all to get it.”
Being a natural fit to lead the program, she did, and so far, it’s mostly worked out in the season’s early going. The War Eagles were 4-1 heading into their home opener against Marist on Monday, but in that game, South’s youth and inexperience showed itself with five errors. After four scoreless innings, Marist took advantage of them, scoring in the last three frames to hand South a 7-0 loss.
“We made a few errors on the routine plays and a lot of times, that's what separates a good team from a great team, being able to make those tough plays and make the routine ones happen,” Brooks said. “But we've looked great so far this season, and I think they got a lot in their head with it being the first home game.”
For the game’s first four innings, neither team could cross the plate, with South starter Hannah Marchman inducing flyballs to get quick outs before the errors began complicating things late. She's been pleased with what she's seen from Brooks so far.
“It's a change, but she knows what she's doing,” Marchman said. “She's been in the program for a while so I trust in every decision she makes.”
South only came away with two hits on the night, which came as a surprise to Brooks considering all the success her team’s had at the plate recently. The hits, both singles, came courtesy of Isabel Hui and Ashley Chu, and being a sophomore, Chu is one of the younger players that Brooks will have a chance to mold going forward.
“I think it makes it that much more exciting,” Brooks said. “I think it was a great transition with the older girls because I already had that relationship with them, but we have 11 freshmen. So being able to put my mark on it starting off, I think it's fun. I'm having a blast.”
For those older players like Hui, Marchman and reigning All-County Player of the Year Makenna Segal, their leadership will have a big impact on whether or not all the fresh faces that are starting can make the quick transition necessary to keep South’s early success going.
“With the little amount we had returning, they were thrown right into varsity, and they're looking at us like, 'What do I do?' So that's our job to help them,” Segal said. “I love that they ask questions. They really have the fire to get better, and based on the games that have (happened), I'm really excited.”