Experienced Lady Raiders Set for Opening Day [VIDEO]
The Lady Raiders’ roster compared to last season is very….similar. Habersham Central is among a small group of schools that bring back almost the entirety of their roster. Which is huge, especially because this team made a playoff run in 2019 under head coach Bill Bradley.
“I’m going to be more intense this year than last year,” says Bradley. “I have high expectations. I have high expectations of each player. I have high expectations for the coaching staff and myself. We have to have that expectation of each other because of our potential.”
Habersham got into the postseason last year with a 11-12 overall record, taking the fourth spot out of Region 8-AAAAAA. That playoff run was the first for the program since 2013, which brought an end to some heartbreaking, narrow losses that kept the Lady Raiders from going to state. The impact of last year’s playoff run cannot be overstated.
“It was really big for us,” says Bradley. “We learned about ourselves…it showed us how close we were. It brings a renewed excitement to continue that improvement to say that we really belong. To set our goals higher. It’s a great jumping off point, a diving board to get going where we want our program to be.”
Returning eight starters from last season, Habersham is in a great position to get in once again, even if powerhouse newcomers Buford enter the region. Key players Preslee Hix, Kyla Quiles, Kilee Thomas, Hailey Wade, Taylor Wade, Brayden Staten, Sadie Hawkins, and Joey Handlos all return from last year’s team. Hix batted .366 last year with 2 homeruns and 17 RBI, while Thomas hit .337 with 10 RBI and Hailey Wade .342-0-14. Quiles’ return to pitch is a huge plus, as she was 8-4 with a 2.66 ERA last season.
In an ever-tough region like 8-AAAAAA, the little things make all the difference.
“The biggest emphasis we’ve tried to have is just being disciplined,” says Bradley. “I’ve we’re disciplined in doing the things we say we’re going to do, then we’re going to be okay regardless of our philosophy.”
The team, which Bradley says is quite close off the field, has all the makings of another great season, that hopefully will be uninterrupted. That said, the Lady Raiders are down to one day until their season opener at Prince Avenue Christian.
“We’re just excited to be competing again,” says Bradley. “We’re happy to be back to some sort of normality with sports in general.”