Hartsville looks for another region title with talented roster
By Drake Horton
For the past seven years or so, the Hartsville Lady Red Foxes softball team has been one of the most dominant programs in the state and this year it is trying keep that reputation and bring home another state championship.
“Hope so,” Hartsville head coach Tommy Garrison said. “We play Darlington tomorrow night and that will kind of tell us who the big dog in the region is, so after that we will know a little more where we stand talent-wise. We’ve already played Latta and Aynor, who are very good programs, and we beat them, so we are doing something right.”
In his second season coaching the Lady Red Foxes, Garrison describes this team as fun, hardworking and coachable. “They have fun, they work hard, but they play hard,” Garrison said.
Garrison hopes these girls can learn to play together, because he has a problem. All 11 girls on his team are equally talented. Most coaches would love to have this problem and Garrison is right with them, but there are only nine positions on the field and with 11 players that is always going to leave someone out of the mix.
“Chemistry, I have 11 girls; we’re short on numbers, we have 11 girls that are pretty close, so if you put one on the bench they have to learn it’s not because they did something wrong, it’s just we alternate every game,” Garrison said. “Because they are that strong, we scrimmaged a month ago and I pulled the names out of a hat. The talent level is that close.”
One thing that Garrison has in his favor is that he is carrying such a small team with just 11 players and while that makes substitutions easier, it also makes his depth paper thin. “We are one injury away with 11 kids,” Garrison said. “You play nine and two of them get the flu and somebody sprains an ankle.”
But why are the numbers so low for Hartsville, which finished runner-up in the 4A state championship game last year? According to Garrison, player turnout was low.
“The numbers weren’t here,” Garrison said. “We had one kid try out that was new to the area and had never played before; she was an 11th-grader and never played.
“The turnout was just so small. We have several 11th-graders playing on junior varsity because we didn’t have enough come out to field a junior varsity team without them.”
Still, a region championship is in the Lady Red Foxes’ sight. “I think we will be all right,” Garrison said.
“It will be between us and Darlington. I’ve been keeping up with the scores. We were concerned about the two Myrtle Beach teams earlier in the year, but they aren’t having much luck.”