If all goes as planned, the Pillow and Carroll Academy girls will get the 2020 fast-pitch softball season started Friday at Pillow’s Robertson Field.
There will be a B-team game at 4 p.m. followed by a varsity contest at 5:30 p.m.
Here’s a look at both teams before Friday’s opener:
n Pillow Academy: Head coach Jud Thigpen feels good about his squad, which will have four seniors leading the way.
“That is the most seniors we’ve had in years,” said Thigpen, who is entering his fifth year as head coach of the Lady Mustangs. “We have some juniors and sophomores who will contribute. We also have some eighth and ninth graders who will have roles.
“We have a solid group overall with some great senior leadership. We actually have five pitchers who will see varsity time, so we are very happy with that. The hardest thing to do will be making out the lineup as we have 13 to 14 girls who can contribute on the varsity level.”
The four seniors are Anna Taylor Hudson, Maklane Scates, Mari Wilson Spruill and Madison Jefcoat. The three juniors are Holly Whitfield, Madeline Mattox and Ashlyn Gillespie, and the four sophomores are Rivers Carroll, Allie Beck, Brennan Neal and Emma Claire Tanner.
There are three freshmen — Anna Grace Rice, Avery Howard and Jocelyn Flores — and four eighth graders (Jimee Brook Garrett, Addison Weems, Grace Tackett and Anna Flowers Hamrick). Thigpen has six seventh graders who will be on the B-team.
“We just want to treat every day like it’s our last because we know how quickly the season could be postponed or canceled,” said Thigpen.
He is assisted by Meggan Nix. Pillow’s next game is Aug. 4 at home against Winston Academy.
n Carroll Academy: Zach Whitfield enters his second year at the helm of the Lady Rebels, who posted an 8-19 record in 2019.
“We started off slow but we found some confidence along the way and kept getting better as the year went on,” said Whitfield. “I do believe even though we are still young, our experience and confidence from last year will help us this year. I have seen improvement and think we can build off last year to improve this season.”
Whitfield is loaded with returning starters. Seniors Kaitlyn Chamblee and Kaylee Ferguson lead the returnees, and junior Alana Garrett played right field the second part of the season. Sophomores Mary Braxton and Helen Claire Cobb, Presley Woods, Meri Brynn Reeves and Peyton Perry, and freshman Bella Carter also started last season. Carter led the team with a .520 average, three home runs and eight doubles.
Sophomores Natalie Kelly and Shelbi Kelly also had roles last year and are expected to contribute this season. The other sophomores on the team are Abby Dunn, Kayla Cornish, Kylee Wescott and Madelyn Holeman.
There are nine freshmen, one eighth grader and three seventh graders on the roster.
Carroll competes in district with Central Holmes, Winona Christian, Indianola and Oak Hill. The Lady Rebels made it to the Class 3A state tournament last year.
“We finished strong last season. We got more confident and had some good things happen,” Whitfield said. “I believe we will be very competitive with our schedule. I think our conference will be very competitive and wide open. All I can ask for as a coach is for these young ladies to go out and compete every pitch. And to also enjoy being around their teammates, enjoy the game and have fun.”
nContact Calvin Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org.