Pop quiz: What begins Monday? Practice, my friends. No, not for football (that’s Aug. 4), but for slow-pitch softball, volleyball and cross country teams. Summer break is over, kids.
The softball season begins Aug. 1. I know it’s like this every year, but that’s insanely early. How can you start playing high school events before school starts? Seems weird to me.
So I offer you a quick glance at the upcoming softball campaign. Story lines abound. Here’s a quick reminder of the Daily Journal’s final 2007 rankings: 1. Mooreville, 2. Ingomar, 3. Nettleton, 4. Booneville, 5. Pontotoc.
Now, story lines for those teams:
• Mooreville: The Lady Troopers fell short against Newton Co. in the Class 3A state finals, and then they lost Daily Journal Player of the Year Lakyn Nelson, who transferred to North Pontotoc in January. A lot of talent graduated, including 2006 Player of the Year Rachel Tally, Sarah Smith and Ann Howell. Perry Wilburn, the fast-pitch coach, has taken over for Rex Berryman.
• Ingomar: The Lady Falcons will try to put the heartache of 2007 behind them. They were a heavy favorite to repeat as 1A champs, but they were disqualified from the playoffs when it was discovered they’d played too many games. Ingomar returns some good bats, including Natalie Frenn and Lyndi Kidd.
• Nettleton: The Lady Tigers will be loaded with tons of returning talent, led by Daily Journal All-Area first-teamer Sydney Clayton. After the fast-pitch team made a run to the 3A finals this spring, look for the slow-pitch bunch, comprised of basically the same group, to vie for state (Nettleton lost to Mooreville in last year’s slow-pitch North finals). In the end, they could be the best in our area.
• Booneville: Gone are sluggers Raven Combs and Sara Beth Michael. Coach Tommy Fraiser is going to have a tough challenge in the deep 3A field.
• Pontotoc: Brooke Denton is very good on the mound during fast-pitch season, but she’s also good at the plate during slow-pitch. The junior hit .516 last year, but can she lead the Lady Warriors on their first deep playoff run in 4A?