North Pike’s Wells earns All-Area MVP honors

Published 8:30 pm Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fastpitch softball talent is abundant in a 5-county section of southwest Mississippi. Many area teams annually contend for state championships.

North Pike pitcher Lauren Wells is one of the main reasons the Lady Jaguars often are in the hunt for a state title. She is a standout in the circle and at the plate. Her latest season earned Wells the title of Miss Softball and Most Valuable Player on the Daily Leader’s 2013 All-Area Softball Team.

Wells is surrounded by a multitalented Dream Team. In the circle, she is joined by Rheagan Welch of Bogue Chitto and Kaitlyn Taylor and Jordan Jones of Copiah Academy, who share the Defensive Player of the Year honors.

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Offensive MVP honors are shared by Abbey Smith and Macie McQuage of Wesson.

The catchers are Adrienne Wallace of Bogue Chitto, Sam Lee of Lawrence County, Brianna McKenzie of North Pike and Kamryn Vanlandingham of Copiah.

Infielders include Taylor Murray and Shelby Peavey of Brookhaven, Taylor Nelson of Parklane Academy, Savanna Johnston of North Pike, Shelby Peavey of Brookhaven, Mattie Avants of Bogue Chitto and Smith of Wesson.

Outfielders are Hannah Smith of Loyd Star, Kristen Byrd of Lawrence County, Alexis Givens of Bogue Chitto and Morgan Webb of Parklane.

Flex players are Elizabeth Smith of Lawrence County, Briana Bass of Parklane, Sarah Robinson of Wesson, Shelby Case and Katherine Shell of Brookhaven and Breean Talbert of McComb.

Designated players are Hannah Moak of Parklane, Christen Benson of Brookhaven, Bentley Sills of West Lincoln, and McQuage of Wesson.

 Lauren Wells,  a 5-foot-7 junior, compiled a 16-8 pitching record, leading Coach Sonya Wallace’s North Pike Lady Jaguars to the Class 4A state playoffs. She accounted for 126 strikeouts and 38 bases on balls in 170 innings. She had a 1.97 ERA.

“Lauren has a lot of natural athletic ability,” said Coach Wallace. “Her pitching has really picked up the last couple of years. She likes to go against the tougher teams.”

Wells, the 17-year-old daughter of Bobby and Janie Wells, has clocked a 60-mile per hour fastball. She also throws a changeup, screw, curve, drop and rise ball. Her pitching coach is Pike County resident Jerry Rhodus.

“I like playing for Coach Wallace,” said Wells. “She has helped me improve my game.”

Wells said she throws “whatever Coach Wallace calls. I like the riseball to strike out batters.”

She also plays shortstop and second base when she’s not pitching. She batted .306 this season, driving in 29 runs and hitting 6 homers. She uses a 33-inch Easton Stealth bat, which weighs 23 ounces.

Besides softball, Wells plays center/midfielder for North Pike’s soccer team. She wears jersey No. 3 in softball.

In the classroom, Wells likes Anatomy & Physiology best. An honor roll student, she is ranked fourth in her junior class.

She has three older brothers: Cody, Trey and Christopher. All of them played sports at North Pike. “We play ball together in our yard a lot.”

Looking back on her team’s 18-11 state playoff season, Wells said she had plenty of pleasant memories. Her “best game” was against Tylertown when she struck out 12 batters and slugged 3 home runs.

“We had a good season but our record wasn’t as good as it has been,” she noted. “We have a lot of young girls who play summer ball and we have a good choice of players.”

She said her family members are devoted Atlanta Braves fans. They attend First Baptist Church of Summit.

Looking ahead, Wells said her team’s goal is to win a state title. The Lady Jags were eliminated by Poplarville in the second round this year.

Asked about her future, Wells said she wants to play college softball. She enjoyed her recent campus visit to Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where two of her teammates, catcher Breanna McKenzie and shortstop Savannah Johnston, have signed scholarships.

However, Wells said she’s open to all scholarship offers and will choose the best opportunity for her education.