Softball to make return Thursday
Roughly two months after it should have happened, Booneville senior softball players Baylee Moses and Shelby Posey will finally get their day in the sun.
Booneville Coach Ronnie Denton has established what is in effect a 17-and-under travel softball team, which includes most of the players from the 2020 season that was shortened due to COVID-19. It also includes some players that are moving from eighth grade to ninth and therefore will be eligible to play school softball in the 2021 season.
“This is not a school team,” Denton wanted to emphasize.
Moses and Posey will be honored tomorrow (Thursday) prior to the team playing two 5-inning scrimmage games against a similar team being established by Paris softball coach Donald Hart. That squad is expected to include most if not all of Paris’s 2020 high school team. The scrimmages will begin at 5:30.
Booneville will also be in a tournament on July 18 in Conway where they will play other high school teams that did not get to complete their season. The incoming ninth graders will not get to play in this tournament because it is intended to showcase the high school teams whose seasons were shortened by the coronavirus outbreak.
However, Denton has not discounted the possibility of his team playing in other scrimmages or tournaments through the summer months. If that were to happen, the incoming freshmen will once again be able to play.
The team has been working out over the last couple of weeks and some of those rising freshmen have acquitted themselves extremely well. During one hitting drill, Lexi Franklin smashed three softballs over the fence and just missed another. Franklin is also an outstanding pitcher who can bring it to the plate in excess of 55 mph.
Ryleigh Love, Linley Garrett, Bella Crabtree, Kyra Brooks and Kylie Lunsford are the other upcoming freshmen who have participated in the practices. Each has shown quite a bit of promise.
That is not to say those who are returning aren’t getting the job done either. Layla Byrum also ripped one over the fence in hitting drills and continued her outstanding fielding. Upcoming seniors Brylee Washburn and Sarah Grissom have improved their hitting significantly while Leigh Swint and Karmen Kent are vying for the center field position being vacated by Moses’ graduation. Whoever doesn’t play center will likely become the new left fielder.
Next season the LadyCats should have five pitchers to choose from. In addition to Franklin and Crabtree, senior-to-be Brooklyn Zarlingo is expected to return from an injury. Those three will join returning pitchers Brooke Turner and Emily Suttles.
Turner, when she is not pitching, will man the third base position being vacated by Posey. Also returning as starters are second baseman Sara Ulmer, catcher Joleigh Tate and right fielder Hayley Lunsford.
It is Denton’s hope that this summer season will give the returnees and newcomers a head start on 2021, as well as a chance to properly honor the graduating seniors. “They have given their heart and soul to the program and deserve to be honored“, said Denton of Moses and Posey.