Lady Wolves hunting bigger game in nationals

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 9, 2008

And the beat goes on.

Fresh from winning state and regional championships, theCopiah-Lincoln Community College Lady Wolves hunt bigger game nextweek in the NJCAA Division II National Softball Tournament. If youlike to wager on sports teams, the Lady Wolves are a good bet tomake a strong showing.

They are riding a large wave of momentum as they enter thenational event in Normal, Ill. Two years ago, Coach Allen Kent’steam finished third.

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Co-Lin (33-8) departs early Tuesday morning for the cold, northcountry. Our Yankee relatives are just starting to thaw out fromone of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory.

In the meantime, Co-Lin has been on a torrid pace. Battlingthrough a strong South Division schedule, the Lady Wolves caughtfire as the season began winding down. They went unbeaten in thestate and regional tests. They’ve won 12 in a row and 19 of theirlast 21 games.

Ranked No. 8 in the nation, Co-Lin draws its first national testnext Thursday at 2:30 p.m. They’ll face the winner of the DelawareTech/CCBC Catonsville game. It’s a double-elimination tournamentand it’s expected to run through Saturday night.

Kent, the NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year, has forged apowerful softball program at Co-Lin. He relies heavily on areatalent plus some outstanding players from Louisiana. The mix hasproduced a strong chemistry product.

From Louisiana are pitchers Becca Bailey (Baton Rouge), KaylaCrochet (Baton Rouge) and Rebecca Rousseau (Shreveport), pluscatcher Missy Paullina (LaPlace).

Bogue Chitto is represented by pitcher/third baseman MeleahBrown, utility players Devon Welch and Candace Avants, andoutfielder Chelsey Miller. From Brookhaven is shorstop AshleySykes. Outfielder Emily Langley (Brookhaven Academy) andpinchrunner Amber Bowman are from Wesson.

Other team members are utility players Brittany Watts of Mageeand Ashley Jones of Lawrence County, outfielder Alex Foster ofNatchez and catcher Becca Boone of Crystal Springs (CopiahAcademy).

Working as Kent’s assistant coaches are Johnny Williams andDuane Burt.

For sure, Co-Lin has a fairly strong recruiting district to drawplayers from. Kent believes in fastpitch softball and works hard topromote the sport. For obvious reasons, he has a strong distain forslowpitch. In fact, Mississippi is the only state where slowpitchis sanctioned and recognized by the high school activitiesassociation.

Obviously, fastpitch is a demanding sport. First of all, youneed some athletic ability to be competitive. Lots of hard work isrequired to improve batting and pitching skills.

To learn the basics and improve, girls need to start playing ata young age, like 8-under. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enoughinterest to form a fastpitch league in the Brookhaven RecreationDepartment this summer.

High school fastpitch coaches often form summer tournament teamsthat play on weekends. There’s a select high school summer teamwhich features Co-Lin team members coaching Southern Ice.

According to BRD spokesman Karen Price, only 20 girls signed upfor fastpitch.

By contrast, there are 6 girls teams in coach/pitch, 6 in10-under slowpitch and 4 in 12-under slowpitch. The BRD also claims4 women’s slowpitch teams and 24 T-Ball teams. That’s a lot ofactivity going on at the Hansel King Sportsplex.

Girls looking for a youth fastpitch league will have to trySummit and Lawrence County where there’s more concentratedinterest.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39601 or