Meridian Star

Sports

June 10, 2014

4 area athletes receive top softball honors

MERIDIAN — Four area softball players were recognized for their excellent seasons this past spring, with three being named to The Clarion Ledger’s All-State team and one being selected as Miss Softball.

Newton County High School’s Darby Bishop received The Clarion Ledger’s highest honor in being named Miss Softball, and teammate Ashton Lampton was named first-team All-State. Neshoba Central High School’s Aspen Wesley and Hailey Lunderman were also named first-team All-State.

Neshoba Central

For the Lady Rockets, Wesley was named as a first-team pitcher, and her accolades were more than deserved. As a seventh-grader, she pitched to a 19-0 record and a 0.69 ERA with 209 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings.

“She’s a great kid that works really hard,” head coach Trae Embry said. “She works ahead in the count and throws a lot of strikes. We’re very excited to have her again for the next five years.”

It was his first time to have Wesley on his team, and Embry said she set an excellent standard for herself this past season.

“I heard she was good, but I wanted to see it with my own eyes,” Embry said. “I wanted to throw her against the Newton counties of the world to see where she really did stand. We were able to do that, and she stepped up to the challenge.”

Lunderman, meanwhile, was fresh off the heels of being named 2013’s Miss Softball, and she didn’t have a letdown this spring. As Neshoba Central’s leadoff hitter, she batted .626 with nine doubles, 10 triples, three home runs and 56 runs scored.

“She sets the table for us, and she ended the year with over a .700 on-base percentage,” Embry said. “She only struck out twice this year, and one of those was in the first at-bat of the season. She’s going to put pressure on you. She’s a three-way player who can bunt, slap and hit, and she can hit with power and run. She’s blessed to be able to do a lot of things.”

Newton County

Lampton finished the season as the batting average leader in the State of Mississippi with a .661 average, 22 doubles, 12 triples, seven home runs, 64 RBIs and 65 runs scored.

“She’s a phenomenal athlete,” head coach Justin Chaney said. “She led our team in RBIs and plugged the hole at shortstop for us. She also pitched some for us this year. I’m very proud of her accomplishment, and she’s very deserving of the honor.”

Lampton said her hitting prowess has been the result of countless hours of extra work, even when practice was officially over at Newton County.

“Ever since I was young, hitting has been my thing,” she said. “My dad (Paul Lampton) has helped me tremendously. It’s all muscle memory for me. You do the same thing over and over and stick with it. Putting in the extra hitting hours at the school after practice has been a big thing for me.”

Her drive stems from the desire to play softball at the next level, said Lampton, who is also the daughter of Kim Lampton.

“I want to be seen,” she said. “Playing college ball is my goal in life, and it really fuels me.”

As for Bishop, its one more in a string over several awards in the last month for the Newton County pitcher. She has a 44-0 record in the last two seasons and had a 1.53 ERA this past season. At the plate, she batted .621 with 17 doubles, nine triples, three home runs and 44 RBIs. She was also recently named the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year in Mississippi and received the PopStar Fastpitch Award in May.

“I think her numbers speak for themselves,” Chaney said. “They say the numbers don’t lie. She had a remarkable year. I’m extremely proud of both of them. They’ve both started for me since the seventh grade, and they’re reaping the rewards of all the hard work they’ve put in over the years.”

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