For high school sports, February means the beginning of spring sports. Even though Person softball head coach Michael Ferrell began off-season workouts in September, the Lady Rockets hold tryouts beginning later today, followed by a scrimmage this weekend.
“We’ve got our first scrimmage on Feb. 15. That’s at Southern Alamance,” said Ferrell, now in his second year at the helm. “It’s kind of like a jamboree. There’s going to be around 25 teams there, and each team is supposed to get a one-hour block of time. We’ve heard that we’re supposed to get four of those.”
Saturday’s scrimmage provides a familiar setting for Person.
“Southern Alamance is one of the better teams in the state,” said Ferrell. “That’s who we ended up losing against last year in the second round. I don’t think we’ll play them because of the way scheduling is going to work.”
The Lady Rockets started out 2019 1-3 in conference play, but rebounded by winning their next five conference games en route to an 8-6 record. Person finished the regular season with an overall record of 11-11.
“We started out rough because I hadn’t had quite enough time with them yet,” said Ferrell. “That initial learning curve was pretty tough for me. I knew we had the talent, I knew the girls could compete.”
The turning point was a 10-6 victory on Friday, March 29.
“We had one game last year, a home game against Rockingham, and it was a pivotal moment because it seemed like everything clicked as soon as we won that game,” said Ferrell. “We had everybody in the right spots. From there on out, it was a matter of “How far can we take it now?”
The Lady Rockets joined six other schools from their conference in the state playoffs: Eastern and Western Alamance, Morehead, Rockingham County, and Northern and Northeast Guilford.
Sophomore Lillie Davis is one of Person’s key returning players this year.
“Her pitching ability is lights out,” said Ferrell. Davis finished second in the conference in balloting for pitcher of the year behind Eastern Alamance’s Kenna Rae Dark, a UNC softball recruit.
The Lady Rockets graduated two seniors, and return several starters.
“Not only are we bringing everything back, we have gained four to five potential starting freshman,” Ferrell said. “I think we’re going to have plenty of talent to go around. There’s not going to be one weak link anywhere.”
Person employed a 14-player roster last year. Ferrell expects more players on his roster this year.
“I have a feeling that we’ll be sitting anywhere between 15-18, which is a big number. Not everyone will travel with us for away games, though. They’re going to have to earn that spot because it’s so competitive.”
The Lady Rockets start the season without four of their players: Karter Hawkins, Gabby Jones, and Kailey and Kelcey Mangum, who all play on the varsity women’s basketball team.
“I tried to push our first game back to the 10th because if they make it deep in the state playoffs, they’ll potentially be missing the first week of softball,” said Ferrell. “I made the schedule last year with that in mind.” In order to fit Rockingham into their schedule, however, Person starts their season on Friday, March 6.
Softball fans have the opportunity to see their Lady Rockets at home between this Saturday’s jamboree and Opening Day on the sixth.
“Our first scrimmage game here is going to be Feb. 27 against Vance County,” said Ferrell. “We’re going to be doing a double-header. We’re going to start at 4 p.m., and we’re given two hours to play as much as we can.”
Person opens its regular season home slate on Tuesday, March 10 against Northeast Guilford.
“March 10 will be here before you know it,” said Ferrell.