Vet pitchers, young talent lead softball Lady Wolves

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 11, 2008

WESSON — Two veteran pitchers and a crop of talented freshmenmake Allen Kent optimistic about the 2008 softball campaign atCopiah-Lincoln Community College. Kent, 44, is entering his sixthcampaign at Co-Lin.

Kent’s latest edition makes its debut Friday, Feb. 15, hostingEast Mississippi CC for a 1 p.m. twinbill.

Starters returning for Co-Lin are pitcher/third baseman MeleahBrown of Bogue Chitto; pitcher/second basman Kayla Crochet of BatonRouge, La.; shortstop Ashley Sykes of Brookhaven, and centerfielderEmily Langley of Wesson.

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Amber Bowman, a pinch runner from Wesson, is a swift sophomorewho first majored in soccer at Co-Lin. Becca Bailey, a sophomoretransfer from Baton Rouge, La., has shown great potential in thecircle. The talented pitcher sustained a torn ACL duringpractice.

“When Bailey got hurt, we started giving Crochet some reps,”said Kent. “She’s a team player and was willing to jump right inthere. There are several talented newcomers on the squad, including9 freshmen.

At catcher, Missy Paulina of New Orleans and Becca Boone ofCopiah Academy will share time behind the plate. Boone and Paulinaalso play the infield and outfield.

Rebecca Rousseu, a freshman hurler from San Antonio, Texas,should see a lot of time on the mound and at first base. She is anoutstanding hitter.

In the outfield, freshmen Candace Avants and Chelsey Miller,both of Bogue Chitto are working in left field. Alex Foster ofNatchez (ACCS), Brittany Watts of Magee. Ashley Jones of LawenceCounty and Devon Welch of Bogue Chitto are utility players who canplay the outfield.

Asked about team strengths, Kent said, “We have some strongpitchers with experience. We should swing the bats better this yearand score more runs. I feel good about our bats. We showed somepotential in the fall.”

Last year the Lady Wolves had a team total of 13 homers. Theyalso had 6 triples and 63 doubles.

Co-Lin averaged 5.43 runs per game last season when the LadyWolves finished 25-15. Opponents averaged 4.13 rpg.

“I hope our team defense will be improved, too,” said Kent.”Everybody is pushing for a starting job.”

Brown was an all-region selection as a freshman. She batted .382and led her team with 32 RBI, hitting 3 home runs. On the mound,she compiled a 7-4 record and a 2.53 ERA. She struck out 71 battersand walked 23 in 72 innings.

Langley was a leader in stolen bases with 11 and batted .348.Crochet batted .375, had 20 RBI and 2 homers. On the mound, Crochetwas 9-4 with a 2.88 ERA. She struck out 30 batters and walked 16 in77 innings.

Sykes batted .342 and collected 18 RBI, working mainly at thirdbase as a freshman.

South Division Outlook

In the South Division, Kent said, “Mississippi Gulf Coast is thefavorite, being the defendng state and regional champions. Theyfinished third in the national tournament and only lost twostarteres from last year’s team.”

Pearl River was South runner-up. “They are always tough,” saidKent. “Their main pitcher is back this year.

“Jones County is improved and they gave everybody a run lastyear,” Kent continued. “Southwest should be better, too. Overall,the South Division is the toughest in the state.”

Last year was the first time in Kent’s 5 years at the helm thatthe Lady Wolves failed to make the state playoffs.

“Injuries really took a toll on us last year but nobody willfeel sorry for you,” said Kent. “You just have to suck it up and doyour best.”

Two years ago Co-Lin won state and regional championship andfinished third in the national tourney.

Shortstop Kady King signed with Southeastern LouisianaUniversity after the 2007 season.

Working with Kent are Johnny Williams and Duane Burt as hisassistant coaches.

Most Co-Lin doubleheaders begin at 1 p.m.