from school reports
SCOOBA – With six returning starters from last year’s division runner-up club, the East Mississippi Community College softball team is set to open the 2014 season by taking on a pair of non-division foes this week. Scheduled to meet rival East Central Community College Thursday (3 p.m.) in Decatur, the EMCC Lions are then slated to play host to Hinds in Saturday’s home opener (1 p.m.) on the Scooba campus.
Returning 10 sophomores from last year’s 24-19 squad that challenged for the MACJC North Division regular-season title until the final day of the 2013 campaign, second-year head coach Kyndall White welcomes back seven players who hit .300 or better a season ago along with three pitchers who combined for 11 victories. Aided by their 17-7 mark and division runner-up finish last season, the Lady Lions made their fifth consecutive appearance in the MACJC State Softball Tournament.
Expected to again lead the way for this year’s EMCC softball squad will be sophomore catcher Abby Roberts, who collected NJCAA All-Region 23 honors in addition to being tabbed the 2013 MACJC North Division Golden Glove recipient as the division’s best defensive player. The Clarkdale High School product ranked second among all NJCAA Region 23 hitters with her .431 batting average along with leading all Lady Lion regulars in on-base percentage (.474) and slugging percentage (.602) last season as a freshman.
Other .300 hitters returning to the Scooba campus are Corey Dawkins (.333), Meri Morgan Fortune (.328), Taylor Hackney (.314) and Wayne County’s Jade Albritton (.305). Along with tying for second on the team with four home runs a year ago, Hackney was undefeated in four decisions with a 2.10 ERA in the circle as a collegiate freshman.
Also projected to once again be a two-way threat for East Mississippi will be sophomore pitcher/first baseman Halie Green. As an EMCC rookie, Green paced the Lady Lions with five home runs and tied Roberts for the club lead with 29 runs batted in. The Louisiana product also posted a 6-5 pitching record a season ago.
Rounding out EMCC’s returning sophomore contingent will be Kendal Carpenter (Northeast Lauderdale), Angel Johnson (Quitman), Tori Seymour (d’Iberville) and Sarah Harris (Clarkdale), who sat out last season for the Lady Lions with a back injury.
The Lady Lions’ 11-member freshman group consists of former New Hope High School teammates Kasey Stanfield and Anna McCrary, Meridian-area newcomers Sarah Lolley (West Lauderdale), Elizabeth Barnacastle (Northeast Lauderdale) and Kristen Mitchell (Clarkdale), as well as fellow in-state products Beth Hull (Kemper Academy), Sam Evans (Union) and Heather Abney (Center Hill HS). Additionally, immediate contributions are expected from out-of-state signees Whitney Lowe, of nearby Pickens Academy, Logan Smith (Odenville, Ala.) and Louisiana native Pepper Baker (Hahnville HS)
Following their opening week of scheduled softball action, the EMCC Lady Lions are slated to play their next 10 contests away from the Scooba campus. A Feb. 11 doubleheader at Pearl River will precede three scheduled games at Jones County’s field on Feb. 15. A return twinbill at Hinds on Feb. 18 will be followed by three games in Shelton State’s Feb. 21 round-robin tournament.