How Columbia Academy developed into a softball powerhouse over the last five seasons

Seth Anderson knew there was something special about the Columbia Academy softball program when he was named the head coach in 2018.

His wife Emily had been the coach of the Lady Bulldogs the three prior seasons and Seth, a Columbia Academy alum, knew it wouldn’t take much to elevate the program to the next level.

In his first year, the Lady Bulldogs won 14 games. The next year they brought home the program’s first-ever gold ball. COVID-19 took away a repeat bid, but the Lady Bulldogs rebounded last season by winning more than 40 games and another state title.

Now with another talented group, Anderson and the Lady Bulldogs are looking for their third consecutive straight title.

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“I think the biggest thing is that we have a lot of really talented players who have bought in to what we’ve been trying to build,” Anderson said. “It’s hard work, and these girls work in the weight room and in the cages as soon as we get back to school up until the start of the season. They’ve bought in, and they’re just extremely talented players.

“Southern Middle Tennessee is a hotbed for softball. Where we’re at, softball is the dominant sport, and that really helps us.”

While there was plenty of young talent already on the roster that would continue to grow and get better after that first state title run, a few new additions helped take the Lady Bulldogs get even better.

Senior Averi Slaughter came to Columbia Academy after her freshman season at Santa Fe. Slaughter knew several of the girls on the team already from travel ball and wanted to play with them.

Columbia Academy’s Anna Brewer (19) celebrates her home-run against FRA during the second inning at Franklin Road Academy in Oak Hill, Tenn., Monday, April 18, 2022. Columbia Academy won 19-0.

Columbia Academy’s Anna Brewer (19) celebrates her home-run against FRA during the second inning at Franklin Road Academy in Oak Hill, Tenn., Monday, April 18, 2022. Columbia Academy won 19-0.

“The girls really talked me into coming here after my freshman year, and I’m really glad that they did,” Slaughter said. “I knew a bunch of the girls already, and when we played them in the state tournament my freshman year, I knew it was going to be a challenge.”

A COVID-shortened season only allowed Slaughter to play four games with the Lady Bulldogs in 2020, but she made the most out of her first full-season last year going 24-0.

A tougher schedule this season has seen Slaughter lose a couple of games, but she’s found success more often than not with a 14-4 record a few no-hitters through the first month of the season.

Myleah Hardy also added a new dimension to an already-loaded roster: power.

The Dickson County transfer joined the Lady Bulldogs last season and immediately made an impact, setting a new school record with 20 home runs.

Columbia Academy’s Myleah Hardy hits a 3-RBI single against FRA during the second inning at Franklin Road Academy in Oak Hill, Tenn., Monday, April 18, 2022. Columbia Academy won 19-0.

Columbia Academy’s Myleah Hardy hits a 3-RBI single against FRA during the second inning at Franklin Road Academy in Oak Hill, Tenn., Monday, April 18, 2022. Columbia Academy won 19-0.

This season, Hardy’s nowhere near that number but is still one of the leading batters, batting close to .600.

“When you add someone that can hit like Myleah and someone that pitches like Averi, that’s just going you a lot tougher to beat, and luckily we have them both,” senior Karli Quillin said. “We really haven’t lost anyone major since winning those two titles, so we’ve been to just build on it and grow together. Some of us play travel ball together, so we’re with each other almost the entire year.

“It makes us better, but also makes all of this a lot of fun.”

Reach Joe Spears at [email protected] or 731-343-4923. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @joe_spears7.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Herald: Columbia Academy softball: How the Lady Bulldogs became a powerhouse

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