Prep softball previews
By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on March 11, 2004 1:55 PM
Coach -- Tonya Faison, fifth season
Last year -- 0-17
Gone -- Cora Peele and Krystal Sauls have graduated
Back -- Helga Bryant and Nickie Garner both played last year
Outlook -- The team's inexperience is a major problem, especially at the pitching position, which Faison calls "a really big weakness." The basketball team's playoff run has hampered practices so far. Faison hopes to win a few games, but knows the conference will be an entirely different proposition with Charles B., Aycock, Washington, Kinston. West Craven and South Central in the mix.
Coach -- Jennifer Cochran, fifth season
Last season -- 6-8, missed the playoffs
Gone -- Tara Watson, Jennifer Marlow and Joy Uzzell
Back -- Jennifer Boren, Bliss Parrish, Nikki Strawn
Outlook -- Basketball season made the softball tryouts wait, but Cochran sees a chance to get a top-three finish. There is considerable talent back with Boren, Parrish and Strawn, while several newcomers -- Chandra Meadows, Courtney Hill, Kasie Braswell and Aubrey Reinhard -- should make an impact. Shana Gooding is a transfer and should contribute right away. Cochran said bunting, teamwork and defense are strengths, while the team lacks speed on the bases and is not strong on offense. She sees Farmville Central, North Johnston and Ayden-Grifton as the chief contenders for the conference title.
Coach -- George Daniels, 20th season
Last season -- 19-5, second round of playoffs
Gone -- Three graduated -- Jennifer Hicks, Kelly Price and Julie Worley -- and Erin Starling will not be back.
Back -- Candace Evans, Ashley Woodall, Amanda Pope, Emily Levick, Ashley Tart, Janna Rogerson
Outlook -- The Lady Panthers are starting late because of the success of the basketball team, but Daniels has a lot to look forward to. The left side of the infield graduated, but the rest of the defense is strong and experienced. As a pitcher, Evans won 39 games in the past two years. A few nagging injuries could slow the team in the early going, but the hitting and team speed is projected to be above that of last year.
Coach -- Scott Waller, third season
Last season -- 12-12
Gone -- Alexis Briley, Letitia Lennon, Jordan Duke, Jessica Gray, Teresa Rouse
Back -- Ashley Mewborn, Kristen Elliott, Ginny Narron, Ashley Smith, Emily Sasser and Deniz Alemdar
Outlook -- The Lady Warriors saw a lot of talent graduate but are bringing back a promising group of underclassmen, setting up a stronger team overall, but Waller worries about a lack of speed on the base paths as well as the inexperience of the team overall. Aycock, South Central and Washington will have strong teams, but Waller said "we will have a 50-50 chance of getting into the playoffs. It all depends on how fast our younger players gel with our experienced ones."
Coach -- Brad Matthews, fifth season
Last season -- 4-18
Gone -- Four seniors are gone -- Brittany Craig, Shannon Lynch, Tessa Brannon and Jamie Ricker. Kelly Sasser and Jamie Niemond will not be with the team.
Back -- Karen Thornton, Lesli Darden, Dominique Williams, Scarlett Joyner
Outlook -- The Lady Saints are missing a few from last season, but had a solid JV program to draw from leaving the team with what Matthews calls "some competitors." Pitching is a concern and Matthews is concerned about the team;'s hitting, but he likes the team enough to say he thought "hopefully, we will compete for a playoff spot" with Charles B. Aycock, South Central, Washington and Eastern Wayne.
Charles B. Aycock
Coach -- David West, second season
Last year -- 23-5, conference champion, finished third in fourth straight Class 3-A Final Four
Gone -- Justine Barnes, Ashley Wilhelm, Lezlie Sugg, Faith Fletcher, Sydney Wood, Bridgett Mooring
Back -- Jenny Jackson, Kandace Burroughs, April Vick, Chrissy Setliff, Meredith Wilkerson, Jennifer Williamson, Jackie Schmidt.
Outlook -- The best team in the area for the past four years has the best battery in the state in pitcher Jenny Jackson and catcher April Vick. Kandace Burroughs and Jackie Schmnidt will anchor the right side of the defense, which took a blow with the middle infield having graduated. But West is confident he has the players to step in and fill the void in a rock-hard defensive team. Washington, South Central and Eastern Wayne will contend for the conference title with Aycock, in West's opinion. "Southern Wayne and Kinston are going to be tremendously improved and will make some noise in conference play," West said. " They have very good and are extremely well-coached. Our conference may be one of the most exciting and competitive conferences in the state this year, in any classification," West said. The team has to hit the ball better than last season and West is confident he can get that. "If we stay healthy, we will be OK," he said.
Coach -- Sonny Kilpatrick, second season
Last year -- 4-20
Gone -- Tammy Rogers, Tammy Roe, Keri Heath have graduated; seven more from last year are not going to be playing
Back -- Lorenda Brodgen, Sarah Barwick, Carrie Edwards, Yolanda Lawson, Sara Whitfield
Outlook -- Kilpatrick got a late start after coaching the boys basketball team deep into the playoffs. He is pleased with the battery he has coming back and the strength of other position starters. But a majority of the team is going to be young and inexperienced at the varsity level. Ayden-Grifton seems to be the top team in a very tough league.
Coach -- Heather Humphrey, third season
Last year -- 22-3, conference champion, lost in third round of playoffs
Gone -- none
Back -- Hermia Humphrey, Randi Moulton, leslie Oliver, Morgan Worthington
Outlook -- The Hawks are the standard by which every team in the Eastern Plains Conference has to measure itself. Losing virutally no one from a team that missed the 2-A Final Four by one game, North Lenoir is back with a passion. Humphrey is listing pitching and defense as strengths, but notes that hitting has to continue to get better. The conference teams have improved, but North Lenoir is still the perennial favorite.
Teams that did not report -- Princeton, Greene Central, North Duplin.
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