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Experienced SEL ready for big season

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Aug. 15, 2002
With eight starters returning, including several top hitters, Southeast Lauderdale is looking for an improved season on the softball diamond in 2002.
The Lady Tigers, however, will again compete in one of the toughest Class 3A divisions in the state. Division 5-3A has defending 3A State Champion Newton County and four-time state champion West Lauderdale.
Still, Southeast head coach Ryan Miller is hoping his team can contend for a playoff berth this fall.
"With eight starters returning, I look for us to be a playoff team," Miller said. "Of course, I thought we could be one last year, but that was before two season-ending arm injuries.
"The injuries made us extremely young, but we did start to play well toward the end of the season," Miller said.
Southeast finished 6-23 in 2001. But the Lady Tigers have four batters returning who all hit over. 375 last season.
Leading the way is short fielder Lindsey Raines. She batted .423 for Southeast.
Freshman shortstop Heather Ward was the team's second leading batter at .417. Left fielder LeAnn Workman was third on the team with the bat at .397.
Freshman Lindsey Graham will move from second base to third base this season. She batted .375 last year.
The Lady Tigers welcome back Shalonda Mitchell at first base. She did not play last season. Tamra Harrison is slated to play at catcher but will be backed up by Courtney Graham.
Second base will see a platoon of Kelly Branning and Jessica Rose. In right field will be Nikki Chatham.
In center will be returning starter Stacey McMullen.
The pitching chores will be split between Madison Davis and Heather Harper.
Southeast is set to open its season Friday at Northeast Lauderdale. Unfortunately, Northeast is the defending South State 4A champion.
"Our first two weeks are tough," Miller said.
"I'm afraid, I'm the one who made the schedule out. We play at Northeast and then after that we've got Meridian, Newton County and the Meridian High School Tournament."
The Lady Tigers get both Meridian and Newton County at home on Aug. 20 and 22 respectively. Following the Meridian Tournament, they have three key division games against Carthage, West Lauderdale and Philadelphia.