Thursday, July 23, 2009
MA girls reload for another title run
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall Academy Lady Patriots enter a new fast-pitch softball season with three-peat on their minds.
But they go after a third straight Class AA state championship with three stars missing due to graduation. Gone are catcher Heather Tomlinson, pitcher Lauren Alexander and center fielder Traci Rodgers.
“I told somebody it’s like the parting of the Red Sea, right down the middle,” said head coach Susan Rodgers.
The Lady Patriots are 60-18 the past two seasons with the two state crowns. Last year they also won the Mississippi Private School Association Overall Championship.
“We will have a target on our back like last year, and this year it will be a bit bigger, too,” Rodgers said. “With the grit and determination we have, it’s possible we could be in the hunt again.”
Plenty of talent returns, plus some newcomers must grow up quickly, she said.
Doing the bulk of the pitching in 2009 will be Casey Gibson and Mallary Covington. Infielders will include first baseman Chelsey Gilliam, second baseman Courtney Gibson and shortstop Elizabeth Skelton. Casey Gibson and Covington will fill the third base position when not pitching. Seventh grader and newcomer Kat Moore will likely step into the catcher’s role.
“With the older girls anchoring the infield, we should be solid,” Rodgers said.
In the outfield, Anna Roberts will make the move from left to center. Coach Rodgers said she is “not sure” about the other spots.
Gilliam will likely miss a few games to start the season due to an injury, she said.
“We will have to put a Band-Aid on everything and switch everything around,” Rodgers said.
The MA girls were slated to start full practice sessions Monday. Most have been playing on summer teams. Rodgers is assisted by Carton Gibson.
“We will probably have 15 or so,” she said. “We will have a lot of young ones – sixth and seventh graders.”
She said the schedule, which opens Monday, Aug. 3, at Marvell, will be a “little lighter.”
“The MPSA is allowing just one away game a week; you can’t be out of class more than once a week,” Rodgers said. “And we’re not playing in as many tournaments.”
She does expect to add some games as the season goes along.
“The younger girls have to step in and fill some big shoes,” Rodgers said.
“Everyone has been working hard this summer, and the more we practice, and the more I see them, the better I feel about it. We’re going to be fine.”
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