By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
HATLEY – Lesley Hudson saw the determination in the eyes of the Enterprise players in last season’s Class 2A fastpitch state championship series.
“They were there to win,” said Hatley’s junior pitcher.
As for Hudson and the Lady Tigers, who were making the program’s first appearance in the state finals, they were “thrilled to be there,” Hudson said, then laughed. “We were so happy. It was a shock for everybody.”
Enterprise swept Hatley’s young team, winning the best-of-three series in two games by scores of 4-2 and 9-2.
“It left a bad taste in our mouths,” Hatley coach Chris George said. “They expect to go back this year. I would expect nothing less.”
George has every reason to believe his 2011 team can make a run at returning to Ridgeland for the state finals. The Lady Tigers lost just one starter from a 22-11 team that featured six sophomores, one freshman, one eighth grader in its lineup.
Hudson returns to the mound where she fashioned an 18-7 record with a 1.42 ERA and posted 143 strikeouts in 157 innings. She also pitched 23 complete games and had an impressive .910 fielding percentage.
“Lesley gives the team confidence,” George said. “When she’s on the mound our whole team plays better.
“She has good command of her pitches. She can locate, mix speeds. She’s in control.”
Hudson prefers to deflect the credit for her success and give it to her teammates.
“Realistically, it’s as much about defense as it is pitching,” she said. “All I have to do is just throw it up there. It’s not just a pitcher’s game anymore. Everybody can hit.”
Hudson is exected to be joined in the lineup by catcher Deanna Wright, first baseman Mallory Ashcraft, second baseman Taylor Barrett, shortstop Kelsey Wilson and outfielders Katy Duling, Jamelle Vance, Courtney Roberts and Lauren Sloan.
A lot of the players have been teammates “since we were 6 years old,” Hudson said. “We all should be better this year. We have the ability on this team. It took a combined effort from everybody last year.”
George expects his club to be better hitters this spring.
“Hitting and defense should be our strengthes this season,” he said. “We should be better defensively with everybody back.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Coach: Chris George
– Division: 3-2A
– 2010 Record: 22-11, lost in state finals to Enterprise
– The Players: P Lesley Hudson, jr.; C Deanna Wright,
jr.; SS Kelsey Wilson, jr.; OF Lauren Sloan, jr.
– Quick Hits: Hatley started six sophomores, one freshman and one eighth grader in 2010. … Hudson had 18-7 record, 1.42 ERA with 143K.