• 70°

PCHS softball 2009 preview: We are empowered

All-State catcher Kayla Byrd, All-State shortstop Denise Edwards, and All-District centerfielder Nikki Williams are ready to revisit their successes from last year and lead their team to a great season.

But head coach Jeff Wilson is quick to point out that this club isn&squo;t about just a few select players.

&dquo;We are returning 13 of our top 16 players, and we play a very unselfish brand of softball,&dquo; he said.

Of those 13, eight were starters from last year. They include Edwards, Williams, Jamie Sessoms, a four-year varsity starter at first base, leftfielder Haley Champion, rightfielder Macy Gibbs, Billie Lewis at third base, and Brandy McDowell at second. Byrd takes over behind the plate for Rachel Bradley, who signed with Spartanburg Upstate.

Byrd led the team in batting average last year, posting a mark of .411. Champion hit .394 and should also provide an offensive spark.

Some key reserves are also returning: outfielder Sammy Mazzilli, Sam Van Dayne at first base and Emily McFalls, who plays second.

&dquo;We are excited about our two freshman pitchers,&dquo; Wilson said, referring to rookie flamethrowers Jamie Hrobak and Alyssa Montgomery. They will likely be looked upon to fill some of the void left by the departure of pitcher Haley McCool, who signed with Emory and Henry University.

Other important newcomers include infielders Kara Garvin and Michaelle McKaig.

Wilson, the winningest active coach in western N.C., will be joined in the dugout by assistants Mitch Davis and Jerry Hensley. Their team motto for the year is &dquo;We are empowered.&dquo;