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Lady Wolves ready to begin softball season Friday

CO-LIN MEDIA / The Co-Lin Lady Wolves are thrilled to start their softball season Friday as they prepare host the Mississippi Delta Trojans for a double header. Game One begins at 12 p.m.

CO-LIN MEDIA / The Co-Lin Lady Wolves are thrilled to start their softball season Friday as they prepare host the Mississippi Delta Trojans for a double header. Game One begins at 12 p.m.

WESSON – The Copiah-Lincoln Lady Wolves softball team looks to return to the playoffs in 2014 after finishing 23-19 last season and missing out on MACJC post-season play. The 2013 season saw the Lady Wolves lose eight South Division games by three runs or less.

Head coach Allen Kent knows how small the margin for error can be between winning and losing in the ultra-competitive MACJC South Division.

“A clutch hit here or a play made there could have made a difference in the outcome of many of those games for us last season,” said Kent.

This year’s squad sees an influx of freshmen that will join a key core of returnees. Returning sophomores include MACJC All-State pitcher Brooke Gonzalez from Live Oak, La. As a freshman, Gonzalez had a 2.19 ERA in 134.1 innings pitched. She struck out 82 batters and made an appearance in 23 games.

The pitching staff will also return the experience of Copiah Academy product Meghan Johnson. Johnson, a utility player who will see work in the field, appeared in 58.2 innings as a pitcher as a freshman.

Sophomore Missy Romero will also see time in the circle after being used mostly in the field last season. Romero battled an injury that limited her to only 20 innings pitched as a freshman. At the plate, the native of San Antonio, Texas, posted a .356 batting average with 24 runs batted in and nine doubles.

Freshmen Payton Sheffield and Rheagan Welch are expected to boost a pitching staff that will be one of the deepest Kent has assembled in recent years. Sheffield, a graduate of Oak Grove, is a left-hander that helped her team capture a 6A state title her senior season. Welch, a product of Bogue Chitto, won two state titles in her high school career and has improved throughout the spring, according to Kent.

Sophomores Hannah Roberts, Kacie Berry, Beth Fortenbery and Kayla Craft all return experience in the field and at the plate. Roberts, a product of Amite School Center, posted a .297 average and saw time as a catcher and as an infielder. Berry, a graduate of Copiah Academy, returns the most experience at the position of catcher. Freshman Breanna McKenzie of North Pike High School will also see time as a catcher.

Fortenbery, a graduate of Natchez Cathedral, hit three homeruns as a freshman. Craft, a product of Live Oak, La., knocked in 18 runs in 2013.

Kent is excited about battles for playing times and positions among his returnees and an athletic group of freshmen.

“This is one of the fastest teams we’ve ever signed and it’s been great seeing what these girls are capable of throughout the spring,” said Kent.

Savannah Johnston of North Pike, Adrienne Wallace of Bogue Chitto, Kaitlin Cooksey of Copiah Academy, Brooke Laigast of Hannan, La., and Kristen Byrd and Julian Johnson, both of Lawrence County, make up the freshmen fielders that Kent is counting on in 2014.

Kent is also excited about the addition of assistant coach Duane Burt to his coaching staff. Burt previously served as an assistant from 2008-2011.

“I’m very excited to have Duane rejoin us. He brings a wealth of knowledge, especially in the area of speed training, and I can’t thank our administration enough for their support in bringing him back,” said Kent.

The Lady Wolves begin their season on Jan. 31 when they host the Holmes Lady Bulldogs for a doubleheader at the Co-Lin softball field beginning at noon.