Shane Montgomery believes his North Pontotoc Lady Vikings have the potential to be a competitive slow-pitch softball team this season.
However, he warns: “Potential doesn’t win you games.”
Montgomery lost three starters off last season’s team that fell in the MHSAA Class 3A championship series to Newton County, including two-time Daily Journal Player of the Year Laykn Nelson, and his pitcher.
Replacing a slow-pitch pitcher is difficult, he says, because everybody is involved with fast-pitch in the summer months.
“How do you develop a pitcher when there’s no slow-pitch in the summer?” Montgomery asked. “You’ve got to have a decent pitcher. I feel good about our two.”
Senior Valerie Pettit and junior Paige Anderson have been penciled in to replace Chelsea Sudduth.
The offensive and defensive load for the Lady Vikings this season will fall to third baseman Courtney Quillian and outfielders Taylor Coker and Danyel Raby.
“What we did last year doesn’t mean anything,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got to do it on the field.”
North Pontotoc will be tested from the start in next week’s West Union Tournament. The Lady Vikings’ two regular-season openers will be against the host team and Nettleton.
“This tournament’s a good chance for us to get our feet wet,” Montgomery said.
Nettleton – which lost to North Pontotoc in last season’s state quarterfinals – and defending 1A state champion Smith-ville open their seasons today in a preseason jamboree at Mooreville.
The Lady Tigers, coached by Dana Rhea, play against Itawamba AHS and Mantachie while the Lady Seminoles, coached by Jeremy Duke, take on IAHS and Mooreville.
Duke is looking to replace five starters from last season’s title team.
“We’ve got a number of people in the mix,” he said. “We’ll find out who are best ones are before division play.”
Two players with positions locked down are shortstop Whitney Fears, a returning All-Area pick, and third baseman Cami Roberts.
“I think all the coaches will tell you Whitney is one of the best around,” Duke said. “She comes to work every day.”
Roberts, a pitcher in fast-pitch, has been moved from second to third to take advantage of her strong arm.
“She’s also good at the plate; she can hit to all fields,” Duke said.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal