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NEL tackles new division this season

By By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
Aug. 14, 2003
The Lady Trojans of Northeast Lauderdale will have to battle a difficult division and the loss of some key players if they want to make a third consecutive trip to the 4A State Championship game.
Northeast fell to New Hope last year in the state finals after a very successful year, but will needs to replace several graduates.
"We lost some key players," said Northeast coach Chris Harper. "But we have some girls who can play, we just need them to step up. People are going to have to step up and play in the spots we need them to step into."
The Lady Trojans will need to fill the shoes of Raleigh Odom and Lauren Webb in the middle infielder after the pair graduated. Jana Olczak will move over to shortstop to take over for Odom and Kara Hull will now be the second baseman for the Lady Trojans.
Northeast will be relying on a new pitcher this year as Kim Crawford steps in to take over the position.
"I think she can do a good job," said Harper of his new pitcher. "It's not as easy as people think it is. I think Kim is ready to accept the challenge and take care of it."
The Lady Trojans should be solid at the plate with Olczak as a leader. Jennifer Bristow should also have a good year. Eighth-grader Shelley Odom should step in swing the bat well for Northeast this season.
"We're looking for big things from several people," Harper said. "We've just got to step it up all around."
The Lady Trojans moved to the North half of the 4A for this season and will now face a very sout district.
Northeast is in the district with defending state champion New Hope and will also face a very strong Neshoba Central team that should compete for the 4A state crown this season
"It's going to be a battle," Harper said of the district. "These girls are used to battles though."
Louisville and Noxubee County will also compete against the Lady Trojans in district play.
"We just don't have any cakewalks," Harper said of district play. "We're going to have to step it up and we can. I've been with these girls every day at practice and they can play. It's just up to them whether we do it or not."
It will be a tough road to reach the state championship game again this season, but the last two years should help the Lady Trojans this year.
"They know what it takes to get there," Harper said. "It's just doing it. They will just have to be able to handle the pressure. There is a lot of pressure in this game and those who handle the pressure are the ones who make it."