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Reigning state champs seeking more balance, intensity in offseason

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    The Lady Greyhounds celebrate winning the GHSA Class AAAAA state title last fall. JCHS loses just three seniors off of last year’s team. BRAD HARRISON/Staff

On just about every corner, it’s not hard to see the enthusiasm around the Jones County softball program. Not only did the team’s players and coaches host around 84 participants at the annual softball camp, but there’s been a strong among of enthusiasm during summer workouts.

Coming off a state title can have that effect.

“Our expectations are high, but they were high last year because we were third in the state the year before,” Greyhounds head coach Tripp Burt said. “Everyone’s excited.”

Still, there’s a science to balancing an offseason, according to the Lady Greyhounds coaching staff.

The summer workouts, which include hitting, lifting and defensive work, are on a break due to last week being an off week and this week’s GHSA dead week.

“We want them to enjoy being teenagers, enjoy the summer and be fresh toward the end of the season,” Burt said.

As a whole, the Lady Greyhounds have a good idea about what they’ll have to work with as only catcher Molly Keenum, pitcher Kenzie Forrester and shortstop Maggie Glover graduate. That’s not to say that nothing is unable to be gained under the hot Georgia heat.

“You can learn a good bit,” Burt said. “Between your freshman and sophomore years and sophomores to junior years, you can really see who makes that big jump.”

If anything, this summer is as close to normal compared to a summer ago with smaller groups able to workout and an overall uncertainty about whether or not a season would take place due to potential and existing COVID-19 restrictions.

This offseason, that cloud of concern appears to not be as present.

“Last summer, we were sitting and waiting to see what we could get done, we could only do so much and there was so much uncertainty,” Burt said. “Now, we know what weeks we can do stuff and when we can’t.”