East Coweta High School has one of the most well-respected softball programs in the state of Georgia.
East Coweta, which participates in 7A, the highest classification in the state, has qualified for the state tournament in Columbus 11 times in the last 12 years.
In 2016, East Coweta captured the Region 2-7A championship.
East Coweta has had many players move on to play at the next level. Most recent examples are Florida State utility player Dani Morgan and LSU starting third baseman Shemiah Sanchez.
It starts with the coach. Having a passion that’s visible to players and the community helps establish a winning culture right off the bat. A major reason for the success of the program has been stability. East Coweta softball coach Franklin DeLoach has presided over the team for the last 17 years. Needless to say, DeLoach knows a thing or two about the ingredients for a successful program.
“No. 1 ingredient: really want to be there,” DeLoach said. “Really want to do it and have a passion for it. I have four daughters myself so I’m kind of in-tuned. I love it every bit as muchas baseball, if not more. The girls are smart and they’ll figure it out if you don’t want to be there and they won’t play hard for you.”
As a coach, it’s important to think about the culture you want to create and how to get there. Creating an environment that players thrive in is paramount.
“Girls have to have fun and feel good to win and play well,” DeLoach said. “I try to create a fun environment. We’re going to allow them to have fun and do those things that girls like to do. Girls sometimes like to get silly. I just let them go at it. Sometimes us coaches we’ll get silly with them. I think that’s okay and fine to allow the girls to have that joy.
“It’s tough enough for teenage girls as it is in this world. This should be a safe haven for them to enjoy themselves and have fun while playing the game they love.”
It also helps to have a built-in softball culture in the neighboring community. In DeLoach’s Georgia, softball is a sport on the rise and it’s becoming more attractive for girls to get into.
“I’ve been fortunate to live in a good area that has shown some good growth over the years,” DeLoach said. “The game of fastpitch softball has really taken off in this area. There’s two other public high schools in our county and they’re both pretty good too. I’ve been coaching high school baseball for 17 years here too and I don’t know any other sport besides fastpitch softball that’s grown as significantly in this area. Over the last 10 years especially, it’s been amazing. There’s a lot of interest.”
But it’s no wonder to DeLoach why girls choose the game of softball.
“I think it’s a very productive sport for girls to get into. I tell the girls that softball is a lot like life. Ten percent is what happens to you, 90 percent is how you react to it. I think there’s a lot of positives that come along with playing the game of softball and helping them learn life lessons that can help them be a better at everything they do.”