Talented sophomores headline 2011 NA softball season

With the new year and the second semester of school beginning, the time is drawing closer for the opening of softball and baseball practice for area schools. Throughout the course of the next month, the Gazette will feature each county team as they prepare for the upcoming season.
In New Albany, the Lady Bulldogs hope that momentum from their successful slow pitch campaign will help them make the playoffs, as they are led by a talented sophomore class.
“We’re lifting, running, agilities  and batting indoors right now,” Mallory Beaty said. “We’re coming together as a team, and it’s been a while since being in playoffs, but we have potential to do that.”
Mallory and sister, Morgan, are in their second year at New Albany after transferring from Mantachie. The duo have seen an increased enthusiasm with the sport at the school and feel the interest will provide encouragement for this year’s squad.
“When we first moved here, the sport was dead; no one cared. How football and basketball are here, that’s how softball was where we came from, but over the past year, we’ve seen more of an interest,” Mallory said.
A tough schedule awaits the Lady Bulldogs, who will take on several quality opponents in the early part of the season.
“We’ve definitely beefed up our schedule this year,” Morgan said. “Coach Sanderson said we may be the only team with a losing record going into the playoffs.”
Speaking with Sanderson, the Lady Bulldogs will take part in early season tournaments at Tupelo and Booneville as well as a home date with Oxford.
“We’ve definitely picked up the schedule this year,” he said. “It’s something I’ve done with slow pitch, and have been wanting to do with fast pitch. We’re hoping in those early tournaments that we’ll have seven quality games and win or lose, face tough competition that will carry over and help us in the remainder of the schedule.”
On the topic of his returning players, Sanderson noted his three seniors, Brooke Sides, Ellen Tarrant and Carrie Spenser and juniors Amber Mirfield and Jalanna Cameron. An addition to this year’s squad is Paris Sanders, who will join after basketball, and Sanderson is overall pleased with the potential of his team.
“We have a majority of sophomores, and we’re anxious to throw Paris in the mix and watch her compete for a starting spot,” he said. “Right now our outfield is wide open, as we move Brooke to pitcher for fast pitch. We had one more position out there during slow pitch, but it’s all wide open and we’ll have some good competition for those spots.”
New Albany will begin their season against Southaven in their classic game on February 26.