Loyd Star’s Burnette, Wesson’s Sanders shine in MAC All-Star Softball

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) routinely puts on All-Star games in a variety of sports that are meant to showcase the best up-and-coming athletes from MHSAA member schools.

Last week, the annual softball showcase was held in Ellisville at Jones College.

West Lincoln head coach Anita Thornton and her assistant coach Corey Myers led the South Team in the 1A/2A/3A game that featured the best juniors from the North and South facing off.

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The pair are fresh off leading West Lincoln to a 21-6 overall record and the second round of the MHSAA 2A playoffs.

In the All-Star game, Thornton and Myers got to coach a couple of players they were already familiar with in Loyd Star infielder Abby Burnette and Wesson pitcher Mallory Sanders.

The players reported on Wednesday and then played a game on Friday and a game on Saturday among other events put on by the MAC. The Friday matchup went to the 1A/2A/3A North team by a 13-3 final score.

“We just had one inning where the wheels fell off on Friday for our defense,” said Burnette. “I thought we still came together and gelled pretty well for a team that didn’t know each other before last week.”

Burnette plays shortstop for Loyd Star and in the all-star game she saw time at second and in the outfield.

A versatile athlete, Burnette has been named to The Daily Leader All-Area team in both soccer and softball during her career.

Burnette has verbally pledged to continue her softball career next by signing with the national champs from Copiah-Lincoln CC.

A transfer to Loyd Star as a freshman from North Pike, she’s looking forward to having one more season playing for the Hornets before her high school career concludes.

Loyd Star reached the 2A championship this season before being swept by East Union.

“We’ll have a new coach next year and things will be different, but I’m excited to get to work,” said Burnette. “I’ve really enjoyed the way that Loyd Star feels like a community that cares about each other. You know the little kids on the campus are looking up to you and they are cheering for you and it’s not like that everywhere.”

Burnette finished her junior season at the plate with a .429 batting average and drove in 36 runs for Loyd Star in 2023.

In the All-Star matchup on Saturday, the North Team jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but the South Team rallied and made things interesting before eventually falling 10-7.

“I was proud of how we played in that second game,” said Sanders. “It was a really great experience getting to play with and against some girls that I didn’t know. There was a lot of talent on both teams.”

Sanders slugged a home run for the South Team while also pitching seven innings over two days. She was picked as the Most Valuable Player for the South Team.

In the world of recruiting, she lists Co-Lin and Pearl River as her top two schools at the moment and she’s also got some interest in Mississippi College.

Last season Sanders led Wesson with a .528 batting average as she drove in a team-high 37 runs. In the circle for coach Michelle Nunnery, she struck out 223 batters in 116 innings of work for a Wesson squad that lost a tough 3A playoff series to West Marion.

Sanders also plays volleyball for Wesson and was the goalkeeper last year on the soccer team.

Softball has long been a nearly year-round endeavor for Sanders and her family. She’s playing this summer for Fury-Platinum/National Holeman16u, a travel team that has upcoming tournaments in Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.

“I play with a great group of girls in the summer,” said Sanders. “I’m actually picking up with another Fury team in a tournament this weekend. Any chance I get to play softball, I’m going to take it.”