DNJ SOFTBALL PRIMER: 20 players to watch this year

DNJ SOFTBALL PRIMER: 20 players to watch this year

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DNJ SOFTBALL PRIMER: 20 players to watch this year

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DNJ POWER POLL

1. Riverdale: Nine-time defending District 7-AAA champion still No. 1 until proven otherwise.

2. Oakland: Talented group of hitters should keep Lady Pats in most games this season.

3. Smyrna: Behind pitching of Makenzie Prince, Lady Bulldogs will push for second region appearance in as many years.

4. Siegel: Despite having no seniors, youthful Lady Stars competing with rest of Midstate.

5. Blackman: One of the early surprises on 7-AAA, nearly upset Oakland in MTSCA Tournament.

6. La Vergne: Team lead by quartet of Teonicia Baugh, Kelsey Cantrell, Kristen Givens and Chelsey Smiley.

20 PLAYERS TO WATCH

* Savannah Brownlee, Blackman, Sr.: Pitcher/third baseman is hitting .459 for the Lady Blaze.

* Paige Byram, Riverdale Sr.: The second baseman hitting five in lineup, and can hit for power.

* Kelsey Cantrell, La Vergne, Sr.: The second baseman is hitting .409 so far this season.

* Aubrey Crowell, Oakland, Sr.: The MTSU commitment is hitting .378 with a homer and four doubles.

* Kaitlin Crumpler, Smyrna, Sr.: Trevecca signee hitting .460 with 21 RBIs.

* Kirstyn Cuccia, Blackman, So.: Cuccia, a utility player, is hitting .349 so far this season.

* Sarah Higgins, Riverdale, So.: Move-in from Alabama bats with power in cleanup.

* Savannah Hughes, Siegel, Fr.: The outfielder has adjusted quickly to varsity play.

* Kristen Hunsicker, Smyrna, So.: The infielder is hitting .400 with three doubles and 17 runs scored.

* Savannah Lee, Oakland, So.: Lee is hitting .444 with a team-high four home runs, two doubles and 16 RBIs.

* Caroline Love, Siegel, Jr.: Gives young Lady Stars some experience in lineup.

* Leah Newsome, Siegel, Jr.: All-around player returns as team’s top pitcher and one of Lady Stars’ top hitters.

* Kaylee Porter, Riverdale, Jr.: Hit .402 with with 16 doubles and 5 homers a year ago as a sophomore.

* Theresea Posada, Eagleville, Jr.: The Lady Eagles shortstop is hitting third in the lineup.

* Makenzie Prince, Smyrna, Jr.: Prince is 12-3 with 111 strikeouts. She is hitting .448 with three home runs and 16 RBIs.

* Abby Sargent, Oakland, So.: Sargent is hitting .541 with four doubles, two triples and a homer.

* Chelsey Smiley, La Vergne, Jr.: The outfielder is hitting .429 through the first two weeks of the season.

* Abby Sweeney, MTCS, Sr: Gives Lady Cougars a deep ball threat each time she is at the plate.

* Kristin Uselton, Riverdale, Jr.: Takes over as team pitching ace. Hit .381 with 17 doubles a year ago.

* Devan Welker, MTCS, Sr.: Speedy player can fly down base paths, but can also hit for power.

New coach, same success

Riverdale hasn’t skipped a beat since former coach Jeff Breeden was replaced by current coach Christy Bingham. The Lady Warriors enter the week 11-1, despite graduating three college signees from a year ago.

Riverdale has won the past nine District 7-AAA titles.

“We’re having some success,” said Bingham, who coached at St. Benedict prior to coming to Riverdale. ” I expected them to have success too. I’m not sure their expectations were my expectations, but the’ve come around.

“We expect them to contend for a state championship.”

Oakland hit with injuries early

Oakland center fielder Haley Carter and freshman pitcher Lacie Rinus will miss about four to six weeks because of injuries sustained this past week.

Carter suffered a broken wrist while making a diving catch in an 11-1 loss to Riverdale. Rinus fractured her a bone in her foot.

Carter, a junior, is a Georgia Southern commitment and leadoff batter. Rinus had developed into the team’s closer because of an effective riseball.

Hannah McCravy, Aubrey Crowell and Marybeth Arnett have all shared time in center field.

Young guns

Both Eagleville and Siegel do not have a senior in their respective rosters this season.

Eagleville currently has two juniors, four sophomores and 10 freshmen for coach Chad Leeman. Siegel has two juniors, seven sophomores and seven freshmen for coach Karen Green.

“It’s just one of those deals,” Leeman. “We’re trying to prime them and prep them for the district tournament. It’s taking a little while to learn, but hopefully we should be rocking and rolling by the district tournament.”

Siegel has been extremely competitive thus far in the season, reaching the semifinals in both the Hendersonville Commando Classic and MTSCA tournament.

“This is the best freshman class we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Green said. “They are putting pressure on the upperclassmen, and they are a good group of kids.

“The freshmen came in and said, ‘I want your spot.’ They’ve put that work ethic out there, and that’s made us a better team.”

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