SOFTBALL PHOTO

Chapel Hill coach Adam Graham is slated to begin his third season at the school when the Panthers take on Alexander on Friday evening.

There will be a little sense of normalcy when the Alexander Cougars host the Chapel Hill Panthers in the first high school sporting event of the new school year.

The two softball teams will play their season opener Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch.

It will be the first Georgia High School Association athletic event for county teams since sports were shutdown in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is amazing, and I know everybody is ready to get started,” said Chapel Hill coach Adam Graham, who begins his third season as the head coach. “There are still a lot of things up in the air, but to have a little sense of normalcy will be great.”

Alexander first-year head coach Jaime Monroe shared the excitement.

She was named the new coach of the program in mid-May when Zach Graham took a similar position at North Oconee High before the end of last school year.

“These girls are ready for some normalcy,” Monroe said. “I know they are fired up and ready to go. The GHSA has done everything possible to make sports happen. We are following all the protocols and look forward to the season.”

The Cougars are scheduled to play a scrimmage game at Heard County today before Friday’s non-region season-opener.

It will be Monroe’s head-coaching debut. She is a 2004 Alexander graduate and was part of the program’s first fast-pitch team.

Monroe spent the last nine seasons as an assistant to Zach Graham.

“I’m ready to go as I’ve been waiting on this moment since I was named the coach,” Monroe said. “This is why I do what I do.”

After her career at Alexander, Monroe played four years at UNC-Charlotte, winning the Atlantic 10 Conference championship.

Both teams are expected to challenge for a state playoff berth again this season. Alexander has 11 seniors while the Panthers will be counting on six upperclassmen.

“We have some girls that have been in the program the last four years,” Graham said. “They have four-year contributors. We are definitely relying heavily on our seniors. I think that this is a real good group.”