Changes abound as Newton
County looks for another title
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Aug. 14, 2003
DECATUR After losing nine seniors from last year's 30-6 team that finished tied for third in the state in Class 3A, familiar faces in the Newton County Lady Cougars slow-pitch softball lineup this fall will be few and far between.
"You don't have nine seniors every year," Newton County head coach Mack Fanning said of last year's ease in making out a lineup card. "We'll have to look and find out what numbers people wear this year.
"I feel like we're going to be able to compete. We've got some people back with some playing time last year. I guess that's why you sub late in the game … there's going to be another day."
Fanning has three seniors who started a year ago, but two will be in different positions. Joy Cavenaugh moves from third base to shortstop and Jennifer Smith moves from catcher to third base. Dominique Mapp is back in left-center.
"We're putting Jennifer on the spot," Fanning said. "She's primarily a catcher/first baseman type player. I had a crazy notion she could play third. She fields ground balls really well and that's what you need at third. We're going to give her a chance."
In the Lady Cougars' first two games, Smith hit three home runs at Clarkdale as Newton County got off to a 2-0 start in the 2003 campaign.
"Joy has played third base about four years and we're moving her to short," Fanning said. "We need Mapp in the outfield to give us a little senior leadership out there.
"We feel like Smith, Joy, and Mapp hopefully can provide us with the pop we need early in the year until the others get some playing time. They should come around."
Haley Harris, a senior, and Lorna Blackburn, a junior, will see time at first base. Sophomore Lindsey Stevens opened the season at second base.
Junior Lindsey Little will be in left field, sophomore Joni Seale will be in right-center, with freshmen Megan Munn and Kristin Pillsbury splitting time in right field. Munn may also see action on the infield at times.
Senior Amber Tyson will do the catching.
Junior Chassidy Smith will handle the pitching along with Little and freshman Ashton Benson.
Sophomore Melissa Robinson will see time at first or third base.
"I've been pleased with practice," Fanning said. "We've got six or seven games prior to the district games."
Over the past five years, the Lady Cougars have gone 157-37 and not finished worse than third in the state in Class 3A. From 1995-2002, Newton County has gone 222-59 with each of those teams making the playoffs. Obviously, the 2003 team has a lofty standard to maintain.
"We look forward to the challenge," Fanning said. "We should be exciting to watch. We've matured a good deal in the course of a year."
The home opener is set for Aug. 22 against a Neshoba Central squad that is expected to contend for the Class 4A state crown.