GODFREY – When the Alton High softball team needed something good to develop the past spring, the Redbirds set their sights on Georgia.
That’s senior shortstop Georgia Dodson. She served as the leader of the pack for a team that went 26-11 and finished in the upper half of the rugged Southwestern Conference.
Dodson’s heroics, which translated to first team, all-SWC honors, played a key part in her selection as the AdVantage News’ Prep Softball Player of the Year.
“I gave it my all and left everything I had on the field,” said Dodson, bound for Lewis and Clark Community College.
A leadoff hitter, Dodson set the tone for the Redbirds’ potent attack. She batted a team-best .426 and drove in 32 runs, tied for second on the squad. Dodson, who amassed 49 hits, also played sound defensively in anchoring the Birds’ infield work. She batted .482 her junior season.
“I think my strength as a hitter is that I always try to make contact,” Dodson said. “I like to hit and enjoyed being the leadoff hitter. My job was to get the game started and our team going.
“I liked that responsibility.”
AHS coach Dan Carter relished having Dodson serve as the Redbirds’ catalyst. She was a big reason their offense percolated.
“Georgia has been the table setter for us offensively the last three years,” Carter said. “She led the team in batting average and on-base percentage.”
He added, “Once she gets on base she has the ability to make things happen with her speed, whether it’s a stolen base or taking the extra base. She has been a great leadoff hitter for us and that sure makes it easy (for the team) when she would get on, steal second and be able to score on a base hit.
“When you can do that in the first, it relaxes the whole team.”
The Redbirds were able to relax and regroup even though injuries hounded them much of the season. They made it to the Edwardsville 4A Regional final before bowing to the host Tigers, also the sectional champs.
“Defensively, she is the catalyst of the team,” Carter said. “It is always nice to know that you have a shortstop that can not only make the routine plays but is going to make the tough ones.”
He said, “When we would tell the pitchers to let your defense work for you, we know ground balls would be outs.”
Dodson said the Redbirds improved their defense along the way and that made them a better team.
“It was mainly our defense pulling together,” she said of the successful season. “At first, we weren’t playing that well on defense, but we got better.”
That improvement made the Redbirds a tough team to deal with in the SWC. They handed Edwardsville one of its four losses this season.
“All the girls stuck together and we had eight seniors that gave it their best,” Dodson said. “We had a pretty successful team and I think we stepped it up from the beginning of the season.”
She’s hoping it will be more of the same at LCCC and possibly even a four-year school after that.
“I’m not sure what subject I want to major in at college, but I’d love to play four years of softball,” Dodson said.