JDCC softball hopes new year brings better results
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Probably the best thing that happened to the Jefferson Davis Community College Lady Warhawks softball program in 2003 was when the calendar switched to 2004.
JDCC had a year to forget, as it limped across the finish line with a 7-42 overall record although its conference record was a little more respectable at 5-15.
"We started last year with 18 players and finished with 11. That in itself tells how things went. It just wasn't a good year," JDCC coach Misti Nims said.
The Lady Warhawks' attempt to turn things around could depend largely on well their freshmen class performs. Nine of JDCC's 16 players are freshmen.
"We're pretty young overall, but that doesn't concern me a whole lot at this time. They may be a little nervous early on, but it's a pretty smart group," Nims said.
Much of the Lady Warhawks' experience will be located on the right side of the infield.
At first base, sophomore Brooke DeFrancisco (T.R. Miller) is a returning starter.
"Brooke has good speed. She can cause a lot of problems on the base paths. She only hit .234 last year although that average was .341 in our conference games. She hit leadoff for us last year and she may very well do that again this year," Nims said.
The second base spot was divided between sophomores Kara Mattraw (Marianna, Fla.) and Holli Adams (Blountsville) last season. They will battle each other for the same spot again this year.
"Kara is a vocal player. She has extremely quick hands," Nims said. "Holli has a good eye at the plate and makes good contact. She rarely strikes out and led us in walks last season."
The left side of the infield will probably be handled by freshmen. Missy Gamewell (Tate, Fla.) is the early favorite for the shortstop position although Laura Hoyes (Navarre, Fla.) is also a possibility.
"Missy has good range in the field. She does a nice job of hitting the ball where it is pitched, especially to the right side. She has pretty decent speed on the bases," Nims said. "Laura is fundamentally sound and has some quickness."
Third base will probably go to freshman Kristen Phillips (Ardmore, Tenn.).
"Kristen has some punch at the plate and could hit cleanup for us this season. She covers third base well. She knocks balls down, has good range and a nice arm," Nims said.
Freshman Lashundra Clausell (Tate, Fla.) will get the early call for leftfield. Freshman Shanna McMillan (Escambia County) could see some time there as well, but she is sidelined right now with a knee injury.
"Lashundra has a lot of quickness. She hits from both sides of the plate. Lashundra is the kind of player who lays it all out on the line," Nims said. "Shanna is probably out the first week or two with a knee injury, but we're hoping she can contribute in that spot once she gets back."
Freshman Nichole Young (Crestview, Fla.) is espected to patrol centerfield.
"You like somebody with a lot of speed and can cover a lot of ground for centerfield and Nichole gives us that," Nims said. "She can put down a bunt and runs the bases well. She'll probably battle Brooke for our leadoff spot."
Sophomore Jo Pearson (Escambia County) got some starts in rightfield last year. She will battle freshman Anna Falzone (Pace, Fla.) for that job this spring.
"Jo originally came to our program as a walk-on player. She has improved a lot since she got here. She probably doesn't have the speed we have in the other outfield spots, but she does gives us some punch at the plate. She'll probably hit somewhere in the middle of our lineup," Nims said. "Anna has pretty good quickness. She played rightfield for a Pace team that got to the state tournament last year so she is used to winning."
Behind the plate JDCC will usually use sophomore Liz Murphy (Tate, Fla.). Freshman Teran Kilgore (Talladega, Fla.) will back her up.
"Liz started last year and hit .417 in our conference games, but she missed a month with an injury. She is smart and knows the game. I usally call our pitches, but Liz can do it if we need her to do so," Nims said. "Teran has improved a lot. She has a strong arm and can hit with some power."
Sophomore Katie Lambert (Escambia County) is JDCC's utility player.
"Katie can play most spots. We'll probably use her some at second base, third base, outfield, designated hitter and possibly even pitcher. She'll be in the lineup somewhere. She led us in batting average last year at .309 and had a respectable .397 on base average," Nims said.
The Lady Warhawks' two main hurlers will be sophomore righthander Leslie Presley (Escambia County) and freshman righthander Kelly Stewart (Citronelle.). Presley won three of JDCC's five conference games last year and posted 56 strikeouts in 125 innings.
"Leslie has about five pitches she can throw. She throws hard and at times can be overpowering. Her control is pretty good as well," Nims said. "Kelly doesn't have the velocity Leslie does, but that isn't all bad. We can use her for an inning or two here and there. A slower pitcher can really throw off a batter's timing after they're used to seeing a fast pitcher. Kelly does a good job of hitting her spots."
Nims is hoping JDCC can post a strong finish in the Alabama Community College Conference standings.
"Wallace-Dothan is probably the favorite. They've gone undefeated in the conference the last couple of years and one of those years they won the state tournament and got to the national tournament. Alabama Southern has been a good rival for us. We split four games with them last year," Nims said.
JDCC Lady Warhawks
Feb. 11 Chipola Home 1 p.m.
Feb. 13 Wallace-Hanceville Home 1 p.m.
Feb. 17 Bishop State Away 1 p.m.
Feb. 19 Central Alabama Home 1 p.m.
Feb. 22 Jeff State Home 1 p.m.
Feb. 24 Okaloosa State Away 4 p.m.
Feb. 27 Pensacola Home 1 p.m.
Feb. 28 Gulf Coast Mississippi Away 12 noon
Mar. 2 Chipola Away 2 p.m.
Mar. 5-6 Pensacola Tournament
Mar. 9 Faulkner State Home 1 p.m.
Mar. 12 LB Wallace Home 1 p.m.
Mar. 13 Gulf Coast Mississippi Home 12 noon
Mar. 15 Iowa Lakes Home 1 p.m.
Mar. 17 Central Alabama Away 1 p.m.
Mar. 18-19 Wallace-Hanceville Tournament
Mar. 21 Chatt Valley Home 1 p.m.
Mar. 23 Enterprise Away 1 p.m.
Mar. 30 Alabama Southern Away 1 p.m.
Apr. 1 Wallace-Dothan Away 1 p.m.
Apr. 5 Alabama Southern Home 1 p.m.
Apr. 8 Wallace-Dothan Home 1 p.m.
Apr. 11 Chatt Valley Away 1 p.m.
Apr. 14 Enterprise Home 1 p.m.
Apr. 17 LB Wallace Away 1 p.m.
Apr. 27 Pensacola Away 4 p.m.
* All dates are doubleheaders except tournaments