When the Booneville softball season began Monday night in Van Buren, there were many new faces on the field, and other familiar faces were in new positions. And the new faces likely included several freshmen.
The new extends to the coaching as well. Ronnie Denton, the boys’ basketball coach, adds the softball assignment to his job and is quite optimistic.
“We will be a competitive team,” said Denton. Their first steps came in the intrasquad PinkOut game held last Wednesday. The home opener for the LadyCats will be tomorrow when they host Atkins.
With six seniors from last year’s team graduated there is no question this team will have a youthful flavor to it, so it is important that the seniors Booneville does have become leaders quickly. There are only three, and two of them just happen to be the battery. Whitney Tatum will take over in the circle for the departed Ashdon Ross, but it’s not like Tatum is new to it. She does have pitching experience but has played mainly in the infield the last three years. Last year she batted .390 and earned All-District honors while playing shortstop.
Mariah Reagan is the catcher; last season she overcame a slow start to finish with a .289 batting mark. Reagan has a very strong arm; she began in the infield last season but moved back to her natural position early on last year. The third senior, AshLeah Craig, joins the team for the first time but has shown good ability in practices.
Olivia Tomlin leads the brigade of juniors. She played in the outfield last season but can man the infield as well. She had four steals in as many attempts last season, as did outfielder Beth Wilkinson. Bailey Denton, the coach’s daughter, brings a good degree of athleticism to the team. Three more juniors are newcomers to the softball team, but not to softball; Casey Townsend, Adria Coffer and Brooklyn May have played in their younger days and will help.
Sophomores Kasidey Thompson—also Denton’s daughter—and Callie Smith primarily served as courtesy runners last season but their role may be enhanced for this season. Classmate Haley Gray can fill in at any infield position.
The freshman class has exhibited a lot of talent. Many have played successfully in travel ball and their competitiveness, it is hoped, will transfer to the school team. Shelby Posey, Baylee Moses, Hannah Gregory, Jessica Parrish and Carli Haller make up this group, and several of them are likely to start or play large roles as the season progresses. Posey is a first baseman by trade while Parrish usually plays third base. Moses and Gregory are outfielders, while Haller can play any position and can pitch as well.
This team should be very exciting and will win their fair share of games. The important thing that needs to occur is that the newcomers need to mesh with the experienced players in quick order. If this occurs, a postseason run won’t be out of the question.