By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — The defending District 4, Class AAA champion Athens Lady Wildcats hit the practice field for the first time Monday, and it felt like a holiday for coach Rich Pitts.
“I love it. It was like Christmas Eve last night. I don’t think the girls think that way, but I do.
“We set the bar high last year,” said Pitts. “We’re a totally different team without those four seniors, but we’re excited about what we have this season.
“We have 28 girls,” noted Pitts. “We have eight seniors, three juniors, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen. We have a huge sophomore class — 11 or 12 girls.”
With a big senior class, and a large number of younger under classmen, Pitts is making an effort to schedule more JV games this season.
“We have a pretty solid JV team. I practiced with them early this morning, and they are a good group of girls,” he said. “They play hard, and that’s always a plus.
“With a new athletic director, I really pushed him to get us JV games,” said Pitts. “We’re going to be playing Vestal and a lot of teams in New York. We’ll be sending them off, or getting JV games here because those kids need to play this year because we’ll need them next year.”
Pitts has also maintained a difficult non-league schedule.
“We get tested right out of the box at the Montoursville Tournament,” he said. “I want to see what we have, and I want to tinker a bit with our line-up.
“We only have five home games … we’re going to be ‘Road Warriors,’” need Pitts. “It worked for us last year.
“I like us on the bus. I think it battle-tests you, and that’s what you need when you’re trying to create that (championship) atmosphere,” added Pitts.
Athens opens its season Aug. 31 against South Williamsport at the Montoursville Tournament.
PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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