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Lady Hornets ready for softball season

Daily Leader / Photo submitted / Loyd Star's softball seniors (from left) Megan Norton, Kelsey McCullough, Ali Gartman, Madison Jones and Julie Smith are looking to make a return trip to the state championship.

Daily Leader / Photo submitted / Loyd Star’s softball seniors (from left) Megan Norton, Kelsey McCullough, Ali Gartman, Madison Jones and Julie Smith are looking to make a return trip to the state championship.

Defense, pitching, speed on the bases and experience will be Loyd Star’s strengths when the 2016 fastpitch softball season begins. The Lady Hornets kick off the season this weekend when they travel to play in the Gulf Coast classic Friday and Saturday.

The Lady Hornets participated in Lawrence County’s softball scrimmage Saturday and had a great showing in Monticello. Loyd Star secured a split in a double-header contest, beating the Sumrall Lady Bobcats 5-0 and falling to Lawrence County 4-0.

Loyd Star has eight returning starters back for the 2016 season – first baseman Ali Gartman, catcher Megan Norton, third baseman Madison Jones, right fielder Kelsie McCullough, center fielder Julie Smith, pitcher Makenzie Smith, shortstop Abigail Thornton and second baseman Johnna Norman.

The Lady Hornets lost only two starting seniors to graduation last year – designated player Raigan Smith and left fielder Brooke Rushing.

“I am looking forward to another great year,” said Loyd Star coach Jan Delaughter. “Our expectations are high this season and if we can stay healthy and be competitive, we should do really well.”

Last season, the Lady Hornets finished the season with an impressive 28-5 record in their hunt for a state championship. They won the division crown, Class 2A South State crown and was runner-up for the state championship.

Delaughter, starting her 26th year at Loyd Star, and her Lady Hornets are ready to make another run toward a state championship.

The Lady Hornets have five seniors on the team – Megan Norton, Kelsey McCullough, Ali Gartman, Madison Jones and Julie Smith – who will be looked upon to provide leadership on and off the field.

Gartman is among the leaders returning with a .443 batting average in 2015. Jones had a .339 batting average and Norton posted a .300 average at the plate. Thornton provided a .349 average, Julie Smith batted a .438, Norman a .295, and Kelsie Smith and McKenzie Smith both posted a .250 batting average.

In pitching, McKenzie Smith directed the Lady Hornets on the rubber with a 20-5 record and finished the season with an impressive 0.93 ERA. She had 93 strikeouts and gave up only 32 walks in 150 innings pitched. Smith also compiled 10 shut-out victories in the 2015 season.

Assisting Delaughter with the 18 players on her squad is assistant coaches Bo Case and Brooke Keene.

The Lady Hornets’ first regular season home game will be against the Richland Lady Rangers March 3. The junior varsity game will precede the varsity game, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Loyd Star 2016 team roster

Seniors

Megan Norton, Kelsey McCullough, Ali Gartman, Madison Jones, Julie Smith

Juniors

Abigail Thornton, Faith Bergeron, Lesley Walker, Lydia Britt. McKenzie Smith, Shelby Smith

Sophomores 

Katie West, Marley Poole

Freshmen 

Aly Floyd, Johnna Norman, Megan Poole, Jordan Kramer, Christi Patterson

Eighth Graders 

Carly Beth Wallace, Malori Cade, Tamaria Townsend

Loyd Star softball schedule

FEBRUARY

20-at Lawrence Co. Jamboree

26-27-at Gulf Coast Classic

MARCH 

3-Richland

4-Lawrence County

7-Clinton

10-at Prentiss

12-at Lawrence Co. Tourney

17-at Northwest Rankin

19-at Brookhaven Tournament

22-at West Lincoln

24-Bassfield

29-at Enterprise

31-Brookhaven

APRIL 

1-at Bogue Chitto

5-Prentiss

7-West Lincoln

9-Loyd Star Tournament

12-at Bassfield

14-Enterprise

15-at Sumrall

19-Bogue Chitto (Strike Out Cancer Game)

21-at Brookhaven

22-23-play in games

26,28-first round of playoffs

MAY 

2,3-second round of playoffs

6,7-South State

13,14- State Championship