On the surface, it looked as if the Booneville softball team, entering this season, might have trouble getting things going. Last year’s two leading hitters for average graduated, last year’s leader in RBIs chose not to play this season, and the LadyCats lost five players to transfers.
But at spring break, the LadyCats have surprised a lot of people as they stand atop the 4-3A Conference. After losing their first game the team has strung together six wins in a row and is beginning to command some respect. They have regained a bit of the swagger they previously had.
One big reason is that Booneville has no less than six batters hitting .400 or above, with a team batting average of .435. They have already scored nearly as many runs (84) as they did the whole of last season (93), and several players have already exceeded their entire 2018 offensive output. Two freshmen are having a huge impact, and the pitching has become very solid.
Junior Shelby Posey is off to an incredible start. She is batting .706 with three home runs and 16 RBIs; both numbers exceed her output from last season. Posey can play either third base or shortstop and so far has done quite well defensively.
Freshmen Joleigh Tate (.526, 7 RBI) and Brooke Turner (.450, 10 RBI) and sophomore Brooklyn Zarlingo (.500, 1 HR, 7 RBI) are also rolling early. Zarlingo so far is all a team would want from a leadoff hitter and more. Turner (4-1) and Zarlingo (2-0) are the two pitchers and have combined for 27 strikeouts so far this season. When not pitching, Turner plays third base, while Zarlingo is the shortstop when not in the circle.
Catcher Keara Ross (.409) has started out the season very well offensively and defensively, throwing out two runners on the basepaths and making a lunging play to save a run as well as having 11 RBIs and two walk-off hits so far. Since returning from a basketball injury, Kasidey Thompson has hit .400 and is playing a solid right field.
Senior left fielder Haley Gray has eight RBIs while hitting .367; she has come up with several clutch hits so far this season. While Baylee Moses has had a bit of a slow start with the bat (.267), she has drawn nine walks and has been hit by a pitch and therefore has scored her share of runs. She has also played the quality center field that is expected of her.
Second baseman Hannah Gregory is only batting .214 but has proven her worth in the field. The junior has a fielding percentage of .960, and her lone error was on a throw; so far, no batted ball hit at her has gotten by.
The remaining players, freshmen Hayley Lunsford and Maddie Walker, both have seen some game action. Each has scored a run; in fact every player on the LadyCat roster has done so.
The LadyCats will try to carry their momentum into two games against Atkins within five days. They will host the Lady Red Devils tomorrow in a makeup of a game postponed because of Atkins being in the state basketball finals, and then make the trip to Pope County next Monday. In between, Booneville will host Perryville on Friday.