Photos by Barry BurlesonImprovements to the MA softball complex include new fencing and a bricked backstop area (above) and brick dugouts (below).
Marshall softball complex upgraded
New digs greet the Marshall Academy Lady Patriots as they begin the 2018 softball season.
The improvements to the softball complex on campus include new fencing, brick dugouts, a bricked backstop area, and lights for the first time ever. A new scoreboard should be installed soon.
“It’s a long time coming,” said athletic director Susan Rodgers. “The softball program has had a lot of success, and the future is bright. It took a lot of effort from a lot of people to get where we are today.”
Head coach Carlton Gibson referred to a famous quote, “If you build it, they will come,” from the movie “Field of Dreams.”
“At least, that’s what we are hoping,” he said.
“This new complex will show prospective families we care about our program.”
MA softball, started in 2002 by Louanne Tomlinson and Gibson, has definitely had its share of success.
The Lady Patriots won state championships in 2007, 2008 and 2017. They also won the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools overall crown in 2008. They’ve claimed North State trophies and lots of district crowns. Head coaches of MA softball have included Tomlinson, Rodgers and Gibson.
“Our goal at Marshall is always to win a state championship,” Coach Gibson said. “But our next goal is to help girls play at the next level if that is what they want to do. In the 16 years, we have helped 15 girls sign to play college ball.”
Barrett Donahoe, headmaster at MA, said the softball complex is hopefully the beginning of lots of improvements to facilities.
“This is fantastic for our softball program, and it’s a wonderful thing for Marshall Academy as a whole,” he said. “It is a project that is very much needed. We’re excited for the people who have put so much energy into that program over the years. They’ve put Marshall Academy softball on the map, and it’s time for the program to benefit from these improvements.
“This is a very visible project. Those who pass by our campus can see it from the road.
“And we hope it’s the beginning of a process. This is Marshall Academy’s 50th anniversary, and it’s a good time for us, as a school, to focus on improving facilities.”
Donahoe thanked everyone – coaches, parents, grandparents, players and others – who has contributed to the effort.
He particularly pointed to Carlton and LuAnn Gibson, who he said “have given so much time to the program.”
“For them, I know it is very satisfying to see this project near completion,” Donahoe said.
Coach Gibson, in turn, thanked Donahoe and the MA board of directors for their support, plus all those who have assisted with the work at the softball complex.
“Thanks to Bob Lomenick for not giving up and pushing the project forward,” Gibson said. “Thanks to David Fant and his crew for meeting the deadlines. Thanks to Mike Lemons and the Holly Springs Utility Department for their help with our lights. Thanks to the Bank of Holly Springs for backing our program.
“And a special thanks to all of our parents and grandparents who have given countless hours of free labor. Without this group of people, this would not have been possible.”
The MA softball team hosts West Memphis Christian (Ark.) Thursday.
After several road games, they start District 1-AA play at home on Monday, Aug. 13, versus Carroll Academy.