Since then, the Lady Raiders have struggled to return to that level in their first two years in AAAAA.
Coming off an 8-15 season in their inaugural year in AAAAA — missing the postseason for the first time in five years — Riverwood is off to an 0-3 start in 2013.
The Lady Raiders lost all three games to some of the best teams in Region 7AAAAA — losing to Kell 7-3 in their season-opener Aug. 13, then falling to Creekview 5-1 Aug. 20 and Cambridge 8-0 Aug. 27.
However, Riverwood coach Jackie Carson said there is plenty of time for the Lady Raiders to get back on track.
“This year, I’m hopeful,” Carson said. “We still have a huge part of our schedule ahead of us. The month of September is the heart of our season and hopefully, we can get to where we need to be in time for the region tournament.”
Facing a number of more established programs from Cobb County in 7AAAAA, Carson said Riverwood is in the process of building a program that can be more competitive in AAAAA.
“We’ve noticed a lot of the Cobb County teams have a great system built up where, with our program, we’re trying to build the JV program and get girls through our feeder system and get more involved with Ridgeview [Middle School],” Carson said. “We’re trying to establish our feeder program. I don’t think we have the manpower. A lot of these girls on the Cobb County teams, they pretty much play year-round and some of our girls play multi sports and it just takes a lot of practice [to be successful in softball].”
The Lady Raiders do have a solid core of six seniors who Carson said can help the team navigate its way through the tough 7AAAAA schedule.
“The leadership is going to help us this year,” she said. “They know what the region is like when the teams are here. They know they have to show up and produce.”
Senior pitcher Veronica Burse is one of those veterans who are leading the way, both at the plate as the clean-up hitter as well as on the mound.
“She plays a lot of travel ball and she plays year-round,” Carson said. “There will be many colleges looking after her. She’s a phenomenal pitcher. She’s got five or six different pitches and not only does she pitch, she is also our No. 4 hitter [in the batting order].”
Junior center fielder Amira James provides speed on the base paths, while sophomore first baseman Caroline Sweetin and senior shortstop Kendall Burrell are the other key players.
After seeing Riverwood’s postseason streak of five consecutive appearances come to an end last year, Carson said she is confident the pieces are in place for a return trip in 2013.
“We have a lot of potential,” she said. “We just missed it last year and it will be a heartbreak if we don’t [make it back to state], because I have high, high expectations for the team. [Our players have] been to the [7AAAAA tournament] already. They know what the tournament is like and we’ve got to make the top four and we can do that. But, there’s still a lot of softball left to play.”