By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
ECRU – In 2010, North Pontotoc was the one doing the hunting.
This season, the defending Class 4A fastpitch softball state champions are going to have to get used to being the hunted.
“We’ve got the target on our backs,” Lady Vikings coach Shane Montgomery said. “We used to say, ‘If we can play with this team or that team,’ now, that’s us.
“We can draw on our (championship) experience. Hopefully, they’re still hungry. You can’t be complacent. People are not going to give us anything. Last year’s over; we have to look ahead.”
Senior third baseman Courtney Quillian said she and her teammates understand the role of being defending state champions.
“Last year, we were trying to beat everybody,” she said. “This year, everybody’s trying to beat us.”
Quillian is one of four starters back from last season’s team that finished an impressive 34-3 overall and defeated North Pike in the title series.
She is joined by pitcher Brianna Gable, who posted a 19-0 record last season, and catcher Brittany Seale, who was a standout starter as a freshman last season.
“Those three (Qullian, Gable, Seale) are the backbone of this team,” Mongomery said. “When you’ve got a good pitcher, catcher and third baseman, you’ve got something you can build on.”
Seale believes the taste of a state championship only makes the Lady Vikings want to work that much harder to repeat.
“It was great sharing that moment,” she said. “We’d love to do it again. It makes us want to play even harder and defend our state championship.”
Gable says she’ll be a better pitcher this season, mainly because of the experience factor. However, she knows her defense is the key.
“You’ve got to have a good defense,” she the ICC signee. “They control what goes on.”
Taylor Coker, the shortstop, is the other returning starter.
Montgomery is looking to all newcomers in his outfield where Caitlin Robertson, Lauren Rodgers, Brooke Boisseau, Brooklyn Jenson and Tia Davis are competing for time.
Another newcomer expected to see some action is eighth grader Chandler Gates, a transfer who could see time at second base and on the mound.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or email@example.com.
– Coach: Shane Montgomery
– Division: 1-4A
– 2010 Record: 34-3, won 4A state championship
– The Players: 3B Courtney Quillian, sr.; P Brianna Gable, sr.; C Brittany Seale, soph.; SS Taylor Coker, jr.
– Quick Hits: Gable, an ICC signee, posted a 19-0 pitching record last season. … Qillian
signed with Blue Mountain.