Lady Pats back
in title hunt
Some younger players getting a year older and a few newcomers could spell success for the Marshall Academy softball team this year.
“Our goal this year is to win the district, finish in the top two of the north half and then compete for the state championship again,” coach Carlton Gibson said.
The Lady Patriots won back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008, plus an overall crown the latter of those two years. After a young team struggled in 2009 and 2010, the rebuilding process took a big step forward last season when Marshall finished 24-12, placed second in the district and fourth in the north, and advanced to state.
“We have had a few rough seasons in our rebuilding but our younger players are catching on very quickly,” Gibson said.
MA lost just one senior – Chelsey Gilliam, who will be playing at Northwest Community College.
“She will be missed,” Gibson said. “She was a huge contributor to our success.”
Returning players are juniors Elizabeth Skelton and Sam Paris, sophomores Kat Moore and Maura Autry, freshman Hannah Pasco, eighth graders Darcie Gibson and Hailey McMinn, seventh graders Alexis McGregor and Allison Craitin.
Darcie Gibson, who shined last season as a seventh grader, will again lead the Lady Pats from the mound.
“After her poise and success last year, she earned that right,” Coach Gibson said.
The team has also added some players who he said “will play large roles in our success this year.”
Two transferred from Potts Camp – senior Megan Watkins and junior Alaken McNeer.
“Alaken will spend some time on the mound for a different look to some of our district competition,” Gibson said.
Another newcomer is freshman Hayleigh Mason, who is coming from DeSoto Central.
“We are looking for some big things out of Hayleigh, as well as Megan and Alaken,” he said.
Also joining the team are freshman Shelby Hangey, eighth graders Blake Martin and Hannah Carpenter and sixth grader Erin Lominick.
“We have been practicing very hard since the first of July,” Coach Gibson said. “We have gotten stronger and a year older.
“Last year we were not picked to finish in the top four in our district and we placed second. We will probably not be picked to finish in the top two this year, but I believe we will make the playoffs, if not win the district.
“Our biggest district rivals are Carroll and North Delta. Both of those teams lost some key position players.
“We are hoping to have a fun and very successful season.”
The Lady Patriots begin their 2012 campaign next Thursday, Aug. 2, when they host Heritage Academy at 4 p.m. They will play in the Kirk Tournament August 3-4.
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