The revamped Seymour High School Lady Eagles opened their 2008 softball season with a bang Monday night in a double-header sweep at nearby triple-A foe South-Doyle.

The new version of the Lady Eagles features some distinct changes from last year’s squad that made one of the deepest runs in school history into the postseason tournament before losing to Stone Memorial in the 2007 region tournament.

The most glaring departure from last year’s Lady Eagles’ team was standout senior pitcher Chere’ Monday, who is now throwing her tricky fastballs at the college level for Chattanooga State.

Judging from Monday night’s season-opener at South-Doyle, the leading candidate to take up most of the slack created by Chere’ Monday’s absence is freshman right-hander Chaney Graham. First-year Seymour coach Chris Smelcer, who is taking former SHS coach Ron Blades’ spot in the Lady Eagles’ dugout alongside veteran SHS assistant coach/pitching guru Dayna Carter, said Graham shined in her first appearance at the high school level.

“Chaney did really well,” said Smelcer. “Dayna has been working with her for a long time preparing her for this and I was really proud of the way she responded.

“It was a great start for us,” Smelcer continued. “Any time you can beat a triple-A school as a double-A school it’s a good win.”

In the first game of the double header, Graham threw a complete-game shutout in Seymour’s 7-0 victory. The 15-year old ninth-grader, who is a veteran of local softball travel teams, did not allow a walk and had a no-hitter going in her first high school start before giving up a pair of Lady Cherokee hits in the game’s final inning.

“At first I was pretty nervous,” said Graham. “But after facing the first couple of batters I got into the right mode and then I knew I could do it. I felt like the whole team was pretty excited about the game and I thought we did a pretty good job for it to be our first (game) of the season.”

Lady Eagles’ junior right-hander Heather Webster drew the start in game-two of the twinbill and collected a wild 14-11 win. Webster was in total control through the first five frames as the red-hot SHS bats came alive, producing 13 runs by plating three or more base-runners in four of the first five innings.

South-Doyle managed to rally back for nine runs of its own over the final three innings but a rested Graham came on in relief of Webster to strike out the last four South-Doyle batters and the Lady Eagles held on for the 14-11 game-two victory. Webster was credited with the win in game-two and Graham collected the first save of her career on the same night she recorded her first win.

Also starring for the Lady Eagles in the double-header sweep were catchers Haley Huelsman and Jessica Hurst. Seymour’s Katie Randles connected on a home run in game-two and was solid at the plate all night. Brittini “Bert” Rauston, freshman Courtney Ervin, Webster and Graham all had productive offensive nights for SHS.

Lady Eagles’ assistant coach Dayna Carter said it was indeed a nice start to the 2008 season for the Seymour softball program.

“I’m extremely proud of how our two pitchers kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to start the season 2-0,” Carter commented. “I’m equally as proud of how our batters rallied behind the pitchers to give them some breathing room.”

The Lady Eagles are scheduled to play at Anderson County on Tuesday.


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