2019 marks the 13th season that Turco has been at the helm of the Greyhounds Fastpitch softball program.
In Turco's 12 season with Pope Fastpitch, he has guided the Greyhounds to the GHSA state playoffs 10 times (2006, 2010 – 2018) and advanced to the State finals in Columbus Georgia six times, all in the past 7 seasons (2012, 2013,2014, 2016, 2017, 2018). The Hounds have finished in the final 4 five times as well as finishing as the AAAAAA State Champions in 2014 and runner up in 2012 and 2018.
The Greyhounds 2018 season earned the Greyhounds the region 7-AAAAAA championship for the second consecutive season and pushed the Greyhounds 2 year region record over the span to 31-1. The 2018 team was able to take their journey all the way to the state championship game falling in extra innings to eventual state champion Harrisoin in a thriller of a game. The Hounds had to play their way through the "losers" bracket at Columbus after dropping game 1 to Greenbrier, but the Hounds came all the way back posting 4 consecutive wins vs Hertiage, Dalton, Greenbrier, and Allatoona to finish as State
The Hounds also eclipsed the 30 win mark in 2018 posting a 33-6 record with the 33 wins setting a new school record. The 33 wins marks the 7th season that Pope has won 20 or more games since 2011 and the .846 winning percentage of the 2018 team is the best % ever posted by a Pope Fastpitch team.
Since taking over the Pope program in his first sting in 2006, Turco has been part of many Greyhound "firsts". The 2006 season marked the "1st" time in school history that the Greyhounds advanced to the state playoffs.
In 2010, Turco guided the Greyhounds to their "1st" GHSA playoff wim with a 4-3 victory over Creekview before ultimately falling to the Grizzlies in a best of 3 first round playoff series in a closely fought 3 game series.
In 2011 the Greyhounds won their "1st" playoff series ever when the Hounds swept Dunwoody in the 1st round best of 3 series of the state playoffs. The Hounds made it to the brink of the state finals in 2011, dropping a 3-1 decision to Northwest Whitfield in the 2nd round of the playoffs after having won 3 consecutive playoff games. 2011 was also the "1st" time the Hounds broke the 20 win barrier amassing 25 wins which at the time was a school record.
2012 saw the Greyhounds make their "1st" trip to the state finals in Columbus posting 7 consecutive state tournament wins sweeping Arabia Mountain and Heritage as well as defeating Greenbrier, Loganville and Union Grove in Columbus before being swept by Union Grove in the championship game 1-0 (ITB loss with a Pope no-hitter) and 4-3. 2012 was also the Greyhounds "1st" appearance in the state championship game.
The 2012 season was also the "1st" time the Pope Fastpitch team had captured the region championship as the Hounds defeated Creekview in the 7-AAAAA best of 3 series held on the campus of Pope High School. The region championship game was also Turco's 100th victory of his career which added to the historic night and made for some memorable moments. For his efforts in 2012, Coach Turco was awarded the Cobb County Coach of the Year award by the Marietta Daily Journal, and the Georgia Dugout Club AAAAA Coach of the year award for the state of Georgia.
During the summer of 2014, Turco was awarded one of his highest honors as he was named both Pope High School's most positive coach as well as the most positive coach of a female sport in Cobb County. This award was the inaugural "Positive Coach" award given out at Pope and in Cobb County and was give out by Positive Athlete organization.(http://georgia.positiveathlete.org/)
In 2014 the Hounds were able to secure the elusive State Championship they had been chasing by winning the AAAAAA State Championship on November 1st 2014 which is the "1st" fastpitch softball state championship in Pope history. The Hounds won this championship in dominating fashion as they posted an 8-0 playoff record outscoring their opponents 35-6 over the 8 game span with the championship game coming on the strength of a 4-0 no hitter. In 2014, the Hounds posted their 2nd consecutive 30 win season amassing a school record 32 wins. The state championship netted a #14 national ranking in the Maxpreps national poll for fall of 2014.
Turco was awarded multiple honors for his efforts in 2014 including Cobb County Coach of the Year, Georgia Dugout Club AAAAAA coach of the year, and the Georgia Athletic Coach's Association AAAAAA Coach of the Year award. Turco was also selected as the head coach of the North team in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association's North vs. South game played in June 2015 at Shorter University.
The 2016 and 2017 seasons also resulted in trips to Columbus for the Eite 8 seeing the Hoiunds finish 4th in 2016 and 6th in 2017.
Turco has also coached multiple All region and All county players in his 12 years at the helm of the program as well as 22 All State players, with 12 of these players being named 1st team All State. Kelly Barnhill is also the only Pope player in school history to be awarded the GACA Pitcher of the Year award winning the award in consecutive years in 2013 and 2014. Coach Turco has also had the pleasure of seeing 20 of his players go on to play collegiately and 1 player, Kelly Barnhill, being selected to represent America as a player for the National Team (Team USA) in the summer of 2016.
Coach Turco graduated from Pope High in 1998. Upon graduation from Pope, Coach Turco accepted a baseball scholarship to Presbyterian College. After capping a 4 year all conference career, Coach Turco was retained as a coach of the 2002-2003 Presbyterian College baseball team where he helped to guide the Blue Hose to the South Atlantic Conference Championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Coach Turco returned to Pope in 2003 to teach social studies as well as coach. For the past 16 years, Coach Turco has been an assistant with the baseball program at Pope where he has helped lead the baseball program to 12 state tournament appearances and seven region championships in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016 - 2019. Coach Turco has also assisted the baseball program to six state championship appearances in 2009, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 with the 2009, 2013, 2017, 2018 teams bringing home state titles. 5 times, Pope Baseball teams concluded their respective seasons with national ranking in Baseball America. 2009 #10 in the nation, 2013 #21 ranking, 2016 # 28th, 2017 #5, 2018 #13. Turco has also had the pleasure of coaching 11 Pope players who have been selected in the MLB amateur player draft including Joshua Lowe of the 2016 Hounds who was selected 13th overall in the 1st round of the draft.
Turco resides in Woodstock where he lives with his wife Niki and 2 children, Wyatt and Maggie.
Mike Nelson is a 1998 graduate of Lassiter High School who will be coaching his 8th Pope fastpitch season in 2019. During his time as a baseball player at Lassiter, Mike was part of 2 state runner-up teams in 1995 and 1997 while playing for Hall of Fame coaching legend Mickey McMurtry.
In 2012, Mike was instrumental in Pope Fastpitch's run to the state championship with his outside the box motivational techniques. During our run Mike's signature moment occurred in early September when he coined the rally cry of “The snowball is rolling” to signify the momentum our team was gaining with each victory we had. During the months of September and October Pope went 22-1 leading us to the championship game and “growing our snowball” as Mike put it.
Mike's Pope Fastpitch career has known nothing but dominance as the program has qualified for the state playoffs each year of his career finishing in Columbus 6 of the 7 years he has coached. For Mike's efforts with the 2014 State Championship team, Mike has been awarded the high honor of being an Assistant coach of the Year by the Georgia Dugout Club.
During Mike's tenure as the JV head coach of the Fastpitch Hounds, he led the Hounds to a school record tying 10 wins in 2015 and 2016. While an assistant with the JV, Nelson was instrumental in their record breaking seasons of 9,9, and 10 wins in 2012 - 2014. The 2014 season of 10 wins was the first time in Pope history that the JV team has posted double digit wins until Nelson's club followed up on the impressive feat in 2015 and 2016 with 10 wins.
Mike earned a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia State University and was a 4 year letterman for the Panthers spending three of the four years as the Panthers starting 2nd baseman. In 2000, Mike's stellar play earned him a spot on the All-conference tournament team.
After capping off his collegiate playing career, Coach Nelson began his successful baseball coaching career with the Georgia State University baseball staff. Coach Nelson spent 2 years at Georgia State helping the team to back to back conference tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
Coach Nelson has polished his coaching skills on the summer circuit coaching teams in both the East Cobb Baseball program and the 6-4-3 baseball program. In 2001, Coach Nelson assisted the 15u East Cobb Astros in winning the AAU national championship while coaching under highly successful former Lassiter head softball coach Scott Kelly. Currently, Mike serves as a coach for the 6-4-3 Jaguars baseball team.
Mike began his relationship with Pope High School in 2011 assisting the baseball staff as junior varsity assistant and infield coordinator for the 2012 season. With Mike's assistance, the Pope baseball captured 2 state championships in 2013 and 2017 finishing the season ranked 21st and 5th in the nation! Mike has also assisted in 2 other state championship appearances in 2016 and 2019 with the 2016 season seeing the Hounds finish as the #28 ranked team in the country.
Mike resides in Woodstock with his wife Carla and daughter Avery.
Natalie Lampert is a 2011 graduate of Pope High School who returned to her alma mater in 2015 for her inaugural year with Pope Fastpitch. Natalie was a member of the 2010 Pope softball team that secured Pope's first ever playoff victory against Creekview High School in the 2010 playoffs. The 2010 team set the school record for wins (at that time) with 19. For her efforts in her senior season of 2010, Natalie was named to the All-State softball team as an outfielder joining fellow Pope coach Jennifer Miller as the 1st 2 Pope players ever awarded that prestigious honor. Natalie's 2010 team was instrumental in the creation and implementation of Pope Fastpitch's tradition of creating a team “Mission Statement” and Natalie was part of Pope Fastpitch's inaugural class of “Mission Protectors”.
Lampert was instrumental in leading the JV team to a record breaking 13 win season in 2018 which bested her inaugural record breaking season in 2017 of 12 wins. Lamperts back to back record breaking seasons as head coach come after assisting the JV Hounds to back to back 10 win seasons in 2015 and 2016. Lampert was very helpful in assisting the varsity team to the playoffs in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and has been very instrumental in the Greyhounds past 3 trips to Columbus. The 2018 season continues a streak of 9 straight state playoff appearances started by Lampert’s senior class at Pope back in 2010.
After graduating from Pope, Natalie continued her playing career for coach Jamie Grodecki at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville Georgia. At GCSU, Natalie was part of the winningest team in school history as the 2013 team posted a then school record 37 wins. Natalie brings a wealth of experience to the Greyhounds after having played in 85 college games and playing an important role in the GCSU outfield where Natalie made only 1 career error during her college tenure. Twice Natalie posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in the OF (2012, 2014). Natalie was a also a force on the bases for GCSU posting a career 83% success rate in stolen bases while scoring 43 career runs.
In 2015 Natalie earned a bachelor's degree in special education and she will begin her teaching career at Mt. Bethel Elementary school in the special education department.
Jennifer Schrader is a 2007 graduate of Pope High School who returns to her alma mater for her 9th season with Pope Fastpitch. Coach Schrader (formerly Miller) serves primarily as varsity assistant with the Pope staff specifically filling the role of being the program's pitching coach.
As head JV coach with Pope fastpitch program, Coach Schrader was a picture of consistency winning a team record 9 JV games 3 years in a row from 2011 – 2013 and then breaking the team record for wins in 2014 posting Pope's 1st ever double-digit win season with 10 victories. Coach Schrader has built the foundation for a winning attitude amongst Greyhound players at the sub varsity level.
The Pope pitching staff has also flourished seeing the single season records for pitching wins broken three times (15,19, and 29) and the virtual rewriting of the pitching record books in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons with the impressive stats posted by the Pope pitching staff setting new records in almost every category. Under Schrader's guidance, the 2015 Greyhounds pitching staff set a new school record for saves in a season with 5 saves besting the previous school record of 2. Trinity Pizzuti has become the programs all time saves leader under Schrader tutelage posting 4 career saves.
Jennifer has been instrumental in helping the varsity Hounds qualify for the state finals in Columbus 6 out of the last 7 years (2012 – 2014; 2016, 2017, 2018) and she is extremely influential in assisting the team and especially the pitching staff in winning the 2014 AAAAAA State Championship. For her efforts with the 2014 team, Jennifer has been recognized by the Georgia Dugout Club as a 2014 assistant coach of the year. This honor is the highest honor that an assistant coach in the state of Georgia can receive. Also, for her efforts with the Pope pitching staff in 2014, Jennifer was named to the GACA North All Star coaching staff as the North All Star pitching coach.
In 2017 and 2018, Coach Schrader's efforts paid dividends for the Hounds as she assisted Hallie Adams in being named 1st team GACA All-State in 2017 and 2018 as well as Adams being named Cobb County pitcher of the year during Hallie's freshman campaign of 2017. Coach Schrader was also extremely influential in helping maintain the balance in the Pope pitching staff during the Greyhounds back to back region titles in 2017 and 2018. See the MDJ article about Pope's pitching staff here: https://www.mdjonline.com/sports/pope-wields-pitching-double-threat-with-adams-pizzuti/article_d9a203c4-c066-11e8-8d3c-7baa1cb3b37c.html
Jennifer's record setting prep career is very visible in the Pope record books as she is listed in many categories cementing her place as one of Pope Fastpitch's best pitchers ever. Schrader is only one of two Greyhounds to throw multiple no hitters in her career as she tossed two no hitters while at Pope, the second coming against Kell High School in the region tournament to power the Greyhounds to their first state tournament appearance ever. Jennifer is also one of only two pitchers in the history of the program to post an ERA less than 1.00 for the season as she put up an impressive 0.75 ERA as a senior. During one stretch in her record-breaking senior season, Jennifer's pitched 31 1/3 consecutive innings without surrendering a run. Jennifer's accomplishments during her senior year ultimately led her to becoming the first Pope player ever named to the All-State team garnering 2nd team honors for her efforts in 2006.
Upon graduation from Pope, Jennifer accepted a softball scholarship to play for Melissa Mullins at Augusta State University in Augusta Georgia. As a Jaguar, Jennifer had 37 appearances in the circle tossing 7 complete games (2 of which were shutouts) and racking up 12 wins and 2 saves while holding hitters to a paltry .221 average against. In 2009, Jennifer's Augusta state team qualified for the NCAA tournament for only the 2nd time at that point in Augusta State history eventually falling to # 1 ranked North Georgia College in the regional championship game.
Jennifer brings a wealth of experience to the Greyhound coaching staff as she also serves as a pitching and hitting instructor at Champions Fastpitch Academy in Marietta, Ga. Jennifer also teaches 4th grade at Eastside Elementary school in the Cobb County School district and resides in Marietta with her husband Nick.
2019 will mark the 4th season Coach Viland has been with the Greyhounds softball team as a coach on staff after completing a four year varsity career playing for the Greyhounds from 2010 – 2013.
Coach Viland assisted as a part time coach in 2016 prior to moving into a full time role during the 2017 season. During Coach Viland’s tenure, she has known nothing but success with the Greyhounds finishing each of her 3 season in Columbus with the 2016 team finishing 4th, 2017 finishing 6th, and 2018 team finishing as state runner. Coach Viland has also been involved in 3 region championship games with the Greyhounds helping to lead the Hounds to region runner up in 2016 prior to posting consecutive championships in 2017 and 2018.
Coach Viland was an important part of posting back to back 30 win seasons during her time working full time with the Greyhounds winning 30 games in 2017 and posting a program record 33 games in 2018.
Coach Viland has been made an immediate impact on the day to day operations of Pope Fasptitch assisting to implement an in game self-scouting program to the Greyhounds softball team as well as helping to run the Pope softball strength and conditioning program and offseason aspects of the team. Coach Viland accepted a full time teaching role with Pope in 2018-2019 working in the special education department.
Ellie graduated from the University of Georgia in 2018. During her final year in Athens, Ellie was able to coordinate coaching the Greyhounds full time while working through her student teaching and completion of her education degree. Coach Viland has remained a competitive athlete in her post Greyhound softball career excelling as a Cross Fit weight lifter. Coach Viland’s competitive weight lifting career has taken her to multiple cross fit events including prestigious national level events as part of the cross fit games.
Coach Liedberg will join the Greyhounds staff in a full time capacity in 2019 after serving in a part time role in 2018 working mostly with the junior varsity team. Coach Liedberg’s energy and enthusiasm is a large reason why the JV Hounds were able to set a new school record for wins in 2018 as the team posted a program best 13 wins in 18 games.
Coach Liedberg also contributed to the Greyhound state runner up finish in Columbus playing an integral role for the team during our run through Columbus.
Coach Liedberg will work in the social studies department full time during the 2019-2020 school year after working in the transition academy in the 2018-2019 school year. Coach Liedberg is a 2009 graduate of Pope High School where he was a key member of the 2009 Pope Baseball state championship team that finished ranked 10th in the country. As a fire-balling pitcher, Coach Liedberg continued his pitching career at Gardner Webb University in Shelby North Carolina.
After completing his playing career, Coach Liedberg worked multiple jobs in the baseball field working as operations manager for 6-4-3 baseball and serving a short stint as an intern with the Atlanta Braves. It was with the Braves that Coach Liedberg realized his true calling was the education field, and Coach Liedberg went back to school to earn his education degree so he could become a teacher.
Coach Liedberg is also a member of the Pope baseball staff where he has coached 2 seasons with Pope baseball. During these 2 years the baseball programs success is unparalleled as the Greyhounds reached the state championship both seasons that Liedberg has been on the coaching staff.