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Co-Lin softball team optimistic

WESSON – Optimism reigns in the Co-Lin softball program. Coach Allen Kent believes returning veterans and a talented freshman group can make his Lady Wolves South Division and state championship contenders again.

Co-Lin debuts Monday at 1 p.m., versus No. 5-ranked Heartland (Ill.). Former Co-Lin coach David Smith will throw out the first pitch.

Injuries, lots of them to key players, hampered Co-Lin’s success last season. The Lady Wolves finished 18-23 overall and 9-15 in the South Division, knocking them out of the playoff picture.

Kent, starting his 11th campaign, feels extremely confident about his team’s depth at catcher and pitcher. Catcher Karla Beth Hux returns for her sophomore season after batting .372 and earning MACJC All-State honors. She hit 8 home runs and collected 30 RBIs.

At catcher I feel good about our depth,” said Kent. “We have three who can play: Karla Beth Hux, Hannah Roberts and Kacie Berry.”

Sophomore pitcher Chynna Coghlan leads a crop of promising, strong-armed freshmen who should contribute to the winning cause. “Chynna gave us some good quality innings last year,” said Kent. “Freshmen Meghan Johnson had a really good fall and Missy Romero and Brooke Gonzales should help us a lot, too.”

Co-Lin’s middle infield is anchored by shortstop Josie Porter and second baseman Bradi Davis, both sophomores from Bogue Chitto.

“Our infield is a strength,” said Kent. “We have a good positive there with a core returning up the middle.”

Beth Fortenberry also is working at second base. Kayla Craft is at third base. Hannah Roberts should see duty at first base when she isn’t catching. Shelby Mitchell is a veteran catcher and first baseman.

“We have a lot of outfielders and a few positions are still up for grabs,” said Kent. “Early in the season we will get pretty good rotation.”

Asked about the South Division race, Kent said “It gets tougher every year. Jones County went to the World Series and they’ve got several starters back.”

Kent said Gulf Coast, Pearl River and East Central also return several starters. “Southwest lost a lot of close games last year. Hinds finished last in the division but they played a lot of teams close. On any given day, anybody is capable of beating anybody.”

Co-Lin’s run production should be improved. Porter led the team in runs scored and stole 25 bases. She drew 19 walks and batted .320.

Mitchell finished strong. She batted .333 and collected 20 RBIs.

Two Co-Lin all-staters, pitcher Sarah Anthony (14-13) and infielder Emily Smith, graduated.