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 Randleman’s softball team’s members have some fun. And why not? The team is off to a 3-1 start while starting five freshmen and three sophomores.

Youth is being served in Randleman softball

RANDLEMAN — On the Randleman High School softball diamond this season, youth has definitely been served. Armed with a starting lineup that included five freshmen and three sophomores, the Tigers began play in the always competitive Piedmont Athletic Conference last week and it was the Tigers who looked like the team with experience as they topped always powerful Eastern Randolph 3-0 and then Wheatmore 5-4. 


The win over ER was the first for the Tigers over an Eastern team since 2015.


The Tigers were off to a 4-0 overall start and 2-0 league start entering play this week and with that many underclassmen in the starting lineup, how early those young players would adjust to the varsity level was going to determine any early success.


They’ve adjusted and they’ve adjusted well.


“The sky's the limit for this group over the next three or four years,” sixth-year head coach Jeff Webster said. “It will be exciting to see what they can do. They are a good group and they put the work in. They grind. They are who they are because of the work they put in.”


Against the Wildcats, the five starting freshmen included two-way standout Kinzi Ivey, a pitcher and number two hitter in the lineup; Addyson Dees, a third baseman who bats third; Kaylee Phillips, a catcher who bats fourth; Teanna Bostic, a center fielder in the eight slot; and defensive star and flex player Elsie Prince, who gobbled up anything fair or foul to the right side.


“One of the biggest shifts in the program was when we decided to coach the middle school team,” Webster said of he and assistant coach Jason Scott. “In North Carolina, we’re pretty fortunate because middle school softball is in the fall and high school plays in the spring, so we decided to do middle school and start to build it.


“We have seen it since sixth grade,” Webster said of the talented group of freshmen. “We saw their development. We knew this group had the potential to be special. My goal this year is to make a deep run in the state playoffs. If we make a deep run that would be huge for us.”


Ivey will be a key performer for the Tigers this year. The left-hander is ranked as one of the top players in the country in her age group. Against the Wildcats, she gave up just three hits in earning her first varsity shutout. She is now 3-0 on the season with three complete games.


“I’m just thinking go hard, don’t take anything off,” Ivey said after her win last week. ”Don’t  underestimate anyone. I throw everything and throw as hard as I can. I didn’t strike out very many tonight (three), but I didn’t give up many hits. My defense had my back the whole game.”


If this truly is a resurgence of softball at RHS, it began last year when Webster decided to give then-freshmen Kadie Green and Natalie Roach the all-important middle infield positions for the season. Green is becoming a solid shortstop and Roach made an impressive play in the seventh inning against ER to keep the Wildcats off the board. Green is the leadoff hitter and Roach bats ninth.


Camden Scott is the only junior in the starting lineup and Saniyah Deloatch is the only senior on the team.


Phillips is another freshman who mans the catching position.


“I’m nervous, but I feel I can go out there and help the team,” she said. “I play a higher level of travel ball so the pitching is familiar. We are all comfortable and know each other well.”


With the extensive travel ball programs, young players are stepping into varsity positions and succeeding immediately. That is what’s happening at RHS. And there’s more good news.


“The next two classes that are coming in are very talented,” Webster said. “When these freshmen are juniors, it’s going to be fun to watch.”


The Tigers are already fun to watch.