When the 2017 softball season kicks off this week, fans of the sport will have the opportunity to check out some talented individuals, who will be playing at the next level, as well as a pair of defending state champions.
Loaded up for a possible third consecutive title run is Class 4A North DeSoto, which cruised to one of the hardest titles in the state to win behind the pitching of Times All-Area Player of the Year EC Delafield in 2016. The Northwestern State signee is a powerhouse on the mound for coach Lori McFerren. Delafield allowed just two runs in five playoff games last spring while posting a pair of no-hitters in the postseason. She compiled a 1.90 ERA with 96 strikeouts, while batting .418.
She is backed up at shortstop by Louisiana Tech signee and Times All-Area first-teamer Bayli Simon, who hit .434, and junior catcher Taylor Christian, a ULM commit.
McFerren has been balancing the bast with the future.
“It’s a challenge because you want to juggle remembering what it took to get you there but not relying on past success to be what gets you there again…the last three years really has been a huge blessing,” McFerren said.”I tell my teams every year even though some of them were here last year, this is a new team, new year and they control this team’s destiny.”
In the hunt for their second title are the Calvary Lady Cavaliers, who won the first softball title in school history last year with a thriller against longtime nemesis Menard. Back is Times All-City Player of the year Sarah Chamberlain and enough big-time hitters to quake those savvy enough to schedule coach Tiffany Frazier’s club.
Chamberlain, a Ouachita Baptist signee, was 20-5 on the mound with a 1.77 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 149.2 innings. Directing her pitches will be catcher Emily Daniel, a Lady Techster signee, while junior third baseman Marissa Reed hit 10 homers last season.
Expected to battle it out for the District 1-5A title this spring are Evangel and Airline, two schools with strong pitching and deep hitting. The Lady Vikings will look to Arkansas-Monticello signee and Times honoree Hannah Hutson to lead them on the mound after the senior compiled 155 strikeouts and posted a 3.099 ERA. Sophomore catcher Maddie Ennis and Jessica Baffuto should provide solid production at the plate.
With the LHSAA due to award 12 state titles this season, the Lady Eagles have an excellent chance to advance to Sulphur behind Times All-City Pitcher of the Year Emily Deramus, a UT-Tyler signee, who had 118 Ks in 109 innings while batting .471. Backing her are Blakely Cangemi (.412) who turned down scholarship offers because she wants to become a doctor. ETBU signee Liz Adams will patrol the outfield for the Lady Eagles and coach Amanda Busby-Juneau.
One of the most dangerous teams in the area will be the Benton Lady Tigers, who can put up a lot of hitting from Louisiana Lafayette signee and Times All-City first team member Hallie Saintignan, who hit .460 with 35 runs scored last season.
Pitcher Sarah Koeppen, who hit .434 with 11 homers, and first baseman Abby Kent give the Lady Tigers a lot of punch.
Some additional top players returning include Southwood’s Brooklyn Bass, Haughton’s Lacey Dodson, Benton’s Ashley Hunter, Northwood’s Anna Armstrong, Evangel’s Tally Turnbow and Bayley Mayo and Loyola’s Claire Riddick.
5 Teams to Watch
North DeSoto: The defending 4A state champions have pitcher EC Delafield back, along with shortstop Bayli Simon
Calvary: The defending 2A state champions have pitcher Sarach Chamberlain back, along with big hitting catcher Emily Daniel.
Benton: The Lady Tigers could give the Lady Griffins a run for the District 1-4A title behind Hallie Saintignan and Sarah Koeppen.
Evangel: The Lady Eagles could have a road paved to Sulphur with a talented team led by Emily Deramus and Liz Adams.
Airline: When pitcher Hannah Hutson is on, the Lady Vikings are hard to beat. Catcher Maddie Ennis can go yard on any pitch.