Thursday, October 1, 2009
Team ends rebuilding season
The Marshall Academy Lady Patriots’ softball team wrapped up its 2009 season recently with three games.
The Lady Patriots held the annual “Senior Recognition Day” with a game against Magnolia Heights.
After a slow start, the bats got hot in the third with a double from senior Casey Gibson, an RBI double from Chelsey Gilliam, and an RBI single from Elizabeth Skelton. The Lady Patriots scored again in the sixth as senior Anna Roberts singled up the middle, Mallary Covington drew a walk and Roberts scored on a hit by Maura Jane Autry.
Marshall’s defense wasn’t able to stop the Lady Chiefs’ scoring attack as they racked up seven runs on eight hits.
The Lady Pats lost 7-3.
Also getting hits were Mallary Covington and Kat Moore. Casey Gibson took the loss on the mound. She had four strikeouts and gave up seven hits.
The three veteran seniors who have led this young team were recognized, along with their parents following the game – Casey Gibson and Courtney Gibson, daughters of Carlton and LuAnn Gibson of Holly Springs, and Anna Roberts, daughter of Molly Roberts of Olive Branch and Tommy Roberts of Holly Springs. Each senior presented a rose and an autographed softball to their parents.
“Losing these three young ladies is like losing three assistant coaches” head coach Susan Rodgers said. “They were so great to work with the younger players and help them with their skills. They were always teaching and coaching alongside me every single day. I will miss that so much. As much as they were teachers and great players, Anna, Casey and Courtney were incredible role models, as was written in some of the goodbye cards that were given to the seniors by the rest of the team.”
Pitcher and shortstop Casey Gibson led the team this year in batting average with a .436 and a 2.40 era on the mound. She has played for the Lady Patriots since the sixth grade and was team captain this year.
As a Lady Patriot, Roberts filled many roles.
“She was my utility player,” Rodgers said. “She played anywhere I needed her and was always happy to do whatever the team needed of her. This year Anna was the centerfielder and the outfield leader between a seventh grader and an eighth grader.”
Second baseman, Courtney Gibson was the team’s “vacuum cleaner.”
“I have never seen someone cover ground like she does,” said assistant coach Marcus Moore.
All three of these seniors played an instrumental part in the ’07 and ’08 state championship teams and have received many honors for their softball talents.
“I can’t even express into words how much I am going to miss these three girls,” said coach Carlton Gibson, assistant coach and father to Courtney and Casey. “To see them grow and develop into great softball players and now into wonderful young ladies is a dream of a lifetime for a father and a coach.”
The Lady Patriots finished out the season last week with two district games.
The Lady Colonels of Indianola came to town, needing to defeat the Lady Pats to clinch second in the district standings and a berth in the North State Tournament. IA did defeat the Lady Pats 6-5 in a very hard-fought game.
After getting off to a sluggish start and giving up four runs in the first two innings the Lady Pats showed their grit and got on the scoreboard in the third. Once again, Casey Gibson got the rally going with a leadoff single, to be followed by a single from her twin, Courtney Gibson. They were knocked in by RBI hits from Chelsey Gilliam and Kat Moore. In the fourth, Casey Gibson tripled and the tying run was scored on a sacrifice fly from Gilliam.
The Lady Pats’ defense failed in the seventh when the go-ahead runs scored on a error. MA managed to get one of those runs back in the bottom of the seventh on a triple by Gilliam and an RBI from Elizabeth Skelton.
In the final game of the season, the Lady Patriots traveled to Batesville to face the district champs of North Delta.
Setting their minds to avenge a devastating 10-run loss from earlier in the season the Lady Patriots held the Green Waves to just two runs on the day. Out-hitting the Lady Green Waves by a five to three margin was highlighted by an out-of-the-park home run by Chelsey Gilliam. That being the only run scored by the Lady Patriots, the Marshall defense stepped up as well, allowing only three hits. The Lady Waves’ only offense came on RBI singles in the second inning and fourth innings.
“They earned what they got and the few errors we made didn’t cost us the game.” Coach Rodgers said.
“I am proud of the way we finished the season. Even though we didn’t finish on the winning side, we finished on a positive side. I was so pleased that we improved throughout the season and to me that is what was the most important. We knew we were going to be rebuilding this year and told the team back in the summer that was going to be our goal for this year. We just wanted our young players to get better as the season went along and for our older, more experienced players to have a great season. I think we accomplished those things.”
Even though the young Lady Patriots’ team was unable to make it to the playoffs, this year there were many bright spots.
“There is a lot of very young talent coming back for next year and those players got a lot of much needed experience in some very close games,” Rodgers said.
With the exception of one game, all of the district games the Lady Patriots lost were by only one run.
“Although these were losses, I feel good about what this young team accomplished this year,” she said. “We have a lot to work on for next year but we also have a level of talent coming back that can do it.”
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