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Sunday August 30th, 2015 3:57AM

GHS softball ready to establish new traditions on revitalized field

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE -- Roger Parham took over Gainesville High softball with the understanding that the Lady Red Elephants needed some tangible positives.<br /> <br /> On Thursday, Gainesville's softball team will feel a huge positive under its very own feet.<br /> <br /> Thanks to the work of the city system, the long-dormant diamond located on the high school's own campus will play host to its first ever softball contest -- and first competition of any kind since 1985 -- when the Lady Red Elephants take on West Hall at 5:55 p.m.<br /> <br /> "This will give the girls something to hang their hat on," said Parham, who took over the Lady Red Elephants program this spring after 25 years spent in Gwinnett County -- a stint that brought state championships in 1997 at South Gwinnett and 2008 at Mill Creek (his 2011 Mill Creek team also finished as state runner-up). "Gainesville is proud of its traditions in all sports, and we're trying to establish that for softball. And I think this will be a big piece of that."<br /> <br /> Parham -- who actually competed on the field during his high school baseball career, taking on Gainesville while playing for South Gwinnett in 1983 -- immediately saw the field's potential once taking over the program.<br /> <br /> Gainesville fastpitch had played all of its contests at Lanier Point Park, and, while Parham had nothing but positive comments for the park facilities, the new coach felt a new home could prove beneficial.<br /> <br /> "I talked with (Gainesville athletic director) Wayne Vickery and saw that as a vision and knew that if we could get softball on our campus it would make a big statement about the direction of the program," Parham said. "Lanier Point did a wonderful job hosting us, but I felt this could be a big step in re-energizing the program.<br /> <br /> "The field looks unbelievable, and David Presnell and Adrian Niles have done a wonderful job to improve this facility."<br /> <br /> The Lady Red Elephants hope to ride the positive energy to bigger things and have already benefited from Parham's experience, opening the 2014 campaign with three wins.<br /> <br /> "I think the most ever wins these girls have had in a season is nine; they're great kids, and they work hard, and they're ready for something better," Parham said. "I knew this would be a challenge, but I was intrigued by the opportunity and I'm really excited to be here."<br /> <br /> Parham says the rebuilding process has gone far beyond new sod and a fresh coat of paint.<br /> <br /> "We've worked a lot on fundamentals, and it's all part of a process," Parham said. "Our goal is to start playing better programs, but we have to improve to get to that point. We're seeing progress, but, again, it's all part of a process."<br /> <br /> It's a process that will take a big step forward come Thursday.<br /> <br /> <b>NOTE:</b> Admission is free for Thursday's contest.
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