Lady Wildcats looking to replace pair of key softball players

By Staff
Scot Beard
THARPTOWN – Last year the Tharptown softball team was one of the best teams in Class 1A, Area 15.
The Lady Wildcats rolled through most of their area opponents and reached the loser's bracket finals in the area tournament.
This year the path through the area tournament will be a little easier for Tharptown since Speake, the 2009 Class 1A state champions are no longer in the area due to consolidation in the Lawrence County School System.
Unfortunately, the Lady Wildcats are also missing something from last year – two key players.
Gone are pitcher Jess Myrick and catcher Hollie Hines, both of which signed scholarships to play softball at the junior college level.
Myrick was a dominating pitcher for the Lady Wildcats while Hines provided a big bat that could drive in runs against tough pitching.
"I knew it would be different this year," said Tharptown coach Susie Sellers. "We lost five starters."
Four pitchers will attempt to replace Myrick on the mound. Sellers said the drawback is that most of them are young.
Kalen Smith is a promising pitcher, but has not played for a school team at any level.
Haley Hatton and Braeden Sellers are both sophomores and Heather Hatton is the lone senior on the pitching staff but has not seen much time on the mound in recent years.
While the staff is young, Sellers isn't too worried. She schedules some tough opposition early in the season to give her staff a taste of what they will experience when the playoffs roll around.
Replacing Hines' bat is also a concern for Tharptown.
Sellers said there are some good hitters returning, including Chelsea McCluskey, Heather Hatton and Braeden Sellers.
She also said some of the younger players are showing potential.
"Kalen is a good hitter. She has hit well during practice," Sellers said. "Chloe Lane is the type of player that is going to make something happen. She is very coachable."
The Lady Wildcats have a few weeks to prepare for area play, which begins March 15 at home against Belgreen. Between now and then Tharptown will play in the Belgreen Tournament and host Saint Bernard Prep School.
That should give Tharptown enough time to get some experience and rebound from a devastating 18-0 loss to Colbert County in Monday's season opening game.
There is one thing Sellers likes about her team already – team chemistry.
"One thing this team has is this group gets along well," Sellers said. "They don't fuss and fight. They just work hard and practice well."

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