LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Steve Chattin is a perfect example of the old saying, "It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks," but he's managed to do just that early in the Georgia high school softball season.
The veteran coach cut his teeth with the tried-and-true fastpitch game plan of get on, get 'em over and get 'em in, featuring plenty of slap hits and bunts. Chattin learned early that his 2011 Heritage Generals are not built that way and he's adapted, as evidenced by the team's 9-1 Region 7-AAA win Thursday at LaFayette.
Instead of playing for a run or two, Chattin let his experienced hitters take their hacks. The strategy resulted in a three-run home run by catcher Savannah Goldsmith, two doubles and three RBIs from second baseman Renae Johnson and extra-base hits from Jesslyn Stockard and Allison Walker among the team's 13 hits in the six-inning game.
"Today was a good day with the bats," Chattin said. "We're capable of scoring a lot of runs. When I started in this 30 years ago I was notorious for the bunt-and-run, slap-and-run and trying to score a couple of runs. I told my assistant coach when Savannah hit that home run that it's almost like we've turned into the 69 Baltimore Orioles, who where famous for the three-run homer.
"We've got four kids that have hit home runs this year already and three more that have bounced it off the fence, so as a coach you have to make that decision on whether to play for the early run or let them swing. There's a big difference between 1-0 and 3-0."
Goldsmith's third-inning blast quickly changed the game, and when the Generals (9-5, 4-0) added two runs in each of the next three innings, the game went from a tight one to what may be a statement game from the defending region champions.
"Today was supposed to be a close one, but we blew them out and made a statement that we're getting where we want to be," said Goldsmith, who finished 3-for-4 against the Lady Ramblers (10-6, 3-1). "With this lineup we should score some runs."
The explosion made Allison Vaughn's work easy. The junior, one of three pitchers trying to replace the graduated Marissa Patterson, allowed just three hits and struck out five. The overall effort, which also included three hits from Kristin West and two from Walker, had even Chattin having to search for something negative.
"Our expectations haven't changed -- we want to go to Columbus and the final eight -- but we have to play more consistent," he said. "We can't just be planning to turn it on and turn it off. We have to be ready to play every day."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...