The drive for five kicks off this weekend for the Carrollton High School softball team.
Winners of four consecutive region championships across two different classifications, the Lady Trojans are looking to keep the streak alive in 2018 with the return of nearly their entire lineup that reached the Class AAAAA elite eight in Columbus a season ago.
But before head coach Lisa Phillips and crew dig into the rigors of Region 7-AAAAA, they will first serve host to the Trojan Leadoff Slam on Friday and Saturday at the East Carroll Softball Complex.
The Lady Trojans open with Newnan at 5 p.m. on Friday and will wrap up the season-opening weekend with three games on Saturday — squaring off against Heritage at 10 a.m., North Forsyth at 1:30 p.m. and Rome at 5 p.m. in the finale.
The Leadoff Slam, which also includes Bremen, Central, Haralson County and Mount Zion locally, will make for a productive way to start the season for Carrollton after it didn't have all its pieces in place until late in the summer due to girls playing travel ball and a few injuries.
Because after this weekend, the Lady Trojans jump right into region by hosting Woodland, Cartersville on Tuesday before a rivalry showdown at Villa Rica on Thursday in the City of Gold.
Phillips said it's still a little early to tell what everyone else brings back in the region, but she believes her squad has the potential to be a contender once again if everything comes together and it's able to stay healthy.
"We try to take care of what we do and if we do what we do well, then I feel like we'll have a shot to at least play for a region championship. When you get there, lots of things can happen," Phillips said. "We've been successful the last four years and we'd love to see that continue, but there's a long time between now and October. We'll see what happens."
Carrollton only lost two seniors to graduation, but they were two good ones in infielder Ansley Barge and catcher Savannah Cook.
Barge was a four-year starter who is beginning her freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Phillips said it will be interesting to see who rises to the challenge of stepping into that leadership role this fall.
"Ansley was such a strong leader that I think that's something we've really got to develop (early in the season)," Phillips said. "We've got to have that leadership component step in because Ansley was that kid who hated to lose more than she liked winning. So we've got to find that person. I think we've got them. They've just got to accept that role and move into it."
The Lady Trojans are still a relatively young team with three seniors on the roster and only two who will play this fall in second baseman Carlie Monsour and left fielder Montana Dallas. Blaine Threadgill is the third senior, but will be sidelined after undergoing spinal surgery.
Carrollton also returns both of its pitchers in juniors Olivia Fannin and Aslinn Spradlin, who also starts at shortstop when not in the circle, while first baseman Zahri Dunson is another returning starter from the junior class.
Center fielder Scout Jennings, third baseman Kate Albertus, catchers Kylee Robertson and Sophia Sippola, along with Maddie Mashburn and Allie Threadgill, round out a strong sophomore group with Jennings and Albertus back after breaking into the starting lineup last fall as freshmen.
"We're excited about what we have coming back. We bring our pitchers back. We're just trying to get that cohesiveness as a group," Phillips said. "It's a new identity and we've just got to find that with this group. I think as soon as we find that we'll be competitive and be able to make a little noise as the season progresses."