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Stringfellow builds strong program

MONTICELLO — Beronica Stringfellow has constructed one of thestrongest fastpitch softball programs in the Magnolia State. Two ofher keys to success are a strong work ethic and team chemistry.

The LCHS Lady Cougars finished third in the Class 4A stateplayoffs, losing the decisive third game in extra innings to EastCentral, the eventual state champion. Lawrence County posted a 29-7worksheet.

For her accomplishments, Stringfellow has been named The DAILYLEADER’s All-Area Girls Fastpitch Coach of the Year for 2004.

Stringfellow said her team deserves most of the credit forLawrence County’s high success level “We had good attitudes andgood bonding on this team. They knew what was required to make agood team.”

After last season, Stringfellow decided to focus on improvingher team’s batting strength. “We hit the ball well this year. Wedid all kinds of drills.

“They always say good pitchers throw 200 to 300 pitches everyday in practice,” she continued. “I wanted to match that with ourbats. I wanted to get in that many swings a day.”

The Lady Cougars usually started practice at 1:30 p.m. andfinished around 5. “It made for long practices, a good three hoursa day,” said Stringfellow.

“I believe we were one of the best batting teams this year,”added Stringfellow. “We batted over .300 as a team.”

Three of Stringfellow’s seniors were early signees with seniorcolleges. Pitcher Kelly Stokes signed with Delta State University,catcher Gina McCloud with Mississippi State University andcenterfielder Ashley Autman with Southern Miss. First baseman StacySmith signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Other seniors are third baseman Heather Sanders, first basemanStacy Smith and reserve Shaketha Slay.

“One thing that helps us a lot is community support,” saidStringfellow. “Our fans really support us. Georgia Pacific andSonic have really helped us out, too.”

Lawrence County will return four starters in shortstop EmilySmith, second baseman Kaila Givens, right-fielder Avery Barham,left-fielder Cori Walker and backup pitcher Ashley Jones.

Stringfellow schedules several 5A schools every season,including a few from Alabama. The Lady Cougars swept Oak Grove, theClass 5A state champion, this season.

This summer Stringfellow is building an eighth and ninth gradefastpitch team, known as The Lawrence County Explosion.

Stringfellow, 27, is completing her third campaign at LawrenceCounty. She graduated from Clinton High School in 1995 and attendedBelhaven College where she ran cross country and played fastpitchsoftball.

Stringfellow was part of a USA junior track team that touredEngland her sophomore year at Clinton. She ran the 2-mile, 1-mileand half-mile distances.

She is married to Don Stringfellow who is a managing partner inthe Sonic Drive-in located in Monticello. She teaches biology atLawrence County and hopes to pursue a career in dentistry someday.

An avid golfer, Stringfellow plays regularly during the summer,usually at Swan Lake Golf Club and the Brookhaven Country Club. Sheand her husband enjoy playing in weekend scrambles.