Smyrna's Prince eager to show 2013 state title was no fluke

Smyrna's Prince eager to show 2013 state title was no fluke

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Smyrna's Prince eager to show 2013 state title was no fluke

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SMYRNA

Makenzie Prince helped put Smyrna’s softball program on the statewide map a year ago, pitching the Lady Bulldogs to their first Class AAA state title in school history.

Prince, though, believes the Lady Bulldogs still have something to prove — that 2013 wasn’t a fluke.

“I still feel like people think, ‘Oh, it’s Smyrna. They didn’t deserve it last year.’ I feel like there is always something to prove,” Prince said. “If you won 10 times, you still have something to prove. I think in a way I still have to prove to people what I can do.

“But I don’t try to think about that. I just want to do my best, and hopefully that shows them that our team can get back (to state) because we’re a good team.”

Prince, a 5-foot-6 senior, had one of her best outings of the year Thursday afternoon in the Lady Bulldogs’ 12-3 win over Edgewood, Ala. in the opening day of the Lady Warrior Southern Classic. The MTSU signee and reigning Tennessee Gatorade softball player of the year struck out 13 in the game and walked one. She gave up three hits to improve to 8-4 for the season.

She now has 101 strikeouts in 72 23 innings pitched.

Against Edgewood, Prince struck out the first four batters. She got eight of the first nine outs on strikeouts.

Prince, the Lady Bulldogs’ No. 3 hitter, also went 3-for-5 at the plate with three singles and two RBI in the win. She was one of five Smyrna players with multiple hits. Kristen Hunsicker had a double and single, Kelsey Russell had a double and single and reached base four times.

Malorie Prince and Jaylin Mabry each had a pair of singles.

And Veronica Westfall hit a two-run homer — her first of her career.

“I had to change my (batting) stance,” Westfall said. “I was struggling. I made some adjustments on it.

“It was really great, actually. We’ve been out in front of everything. So we kind of got our confidence back.”

Prince, who was The Daily News Journal’s 2013 softball pitcher of the year, finished 36-6 in the pitcher’s circle a year ago with a 0.89 ERA. She struck out 370 batters and walked 85. Opponents hit just .133 against her. Those numbers haven’t been quite as dominant this season. She entered Thursday afternoon’s contest with Edgewood with a 2.10 ERA.

But Prince acknowledge this year’s Lady Bulldogs aren’t the same as a year ago — at least not yet. Several players are in different positions from a season ago. And Mabry is catching Prince for the first first time this season, which has led to an adjustment period between the two.

“Ray (Allen) had caught me for almost three years,” Prince said. “Now I have a new (catcher). The more practice you get and the more games you play, things get better. We’re starting to get that bond now.”

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