Thursday, July 31, 2008
Marshall ready to defend state title
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall Academy fast-pitch softball team is focused on one word – repeat.
“That’s our number one goal,” said head coach Susan Rodgers.
Last fall the Lady Patriots hoisted the Class AA state championship trophy.
“That was fun,” Coach Rodgers said, “and I’m looking for big things again.”
She returns seven starters from last year’s 28-13 team, including her top two pitchers – Lauren Alexander and Casey Gibson. Other starters back are second baseman Courtney Gibson, catcher Heather Tomlinson, center fielder Traci Rodgers, first baseman Chelsey Gilliam and designated hitter Anna Roberts.
“We’re going to have to switch a couple of people around, position-wise, plus a couple of our young ones are coming in to fill some spots,” Rodgers said.
She said the 14-member squad has been working two days a week during the summer, plus every day the past couple of weeks. Also, most played on competitive teams in the summer.
Offensive production should be a strength. She returns the numbers two through six hitters in her lineup.
“We have a strong nucleus back,” Coach Rodgers said.
She also knows MA will have a target on its back as defending state champion.
“Everybody wants to beat us,” she said. “In the back of my mind, it’s pressure, but I don’t think it really matters to the girls. Listening to them at practice, they’re very excited about the season.”
The district race should be competitive again. She said Kirk Academy had a lot of young players last year, and should be tough, and Indianola Academy has its best pitcher returning.
District action isn’t too far away. The Lady Patriots will play in a tournament this Saturday, Aug. 2, at Bayou Academy. She said it will be a good start to the season with tough competition like North Delta School and Pillow Academy.
“We will play with the lineup a little bit during that tournament and get ready to start district the next week (Tuesday, Aug.5) at Kirk),” Rodgers said.
A road game at Carroll will follow August 7, and then Marshall will play in the Kirk Tournament August 8-9.
The Lady Patriots’ first home game is Monday, Aug. 11, at 4 p.m. versus Lee (Clarksdale).
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