“This year’s team will be very young, but very talented,” Chaney said. “I expect us to compete in every game and give ourselves a shot to win.”
The Lady Warriors begin the new season Wednesday, Feb. 4, against Alabama Southern College with doubleheader action beginning at 1 p.m. on the Monroeville, Ala., campus.
The home opener is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, February 7 against Holmes Community College. Special activities are planned including a Drawdown Fundraiser.
Tickets for the Drawdown are available from any Lady Warrior player or coach. Winners will be drawn on game day and those purchasing a ticket will receive a free hamburger and drink.
Opening Day is also being hailed as “Cancer Awareness Day.” The team will wear pink jerseys and cancer survivor and longtime Lady Warrior softball supporter Roger Whitlock will throw out the first pitch.
One of the team goals is to qualify to host a first round playoff game. In order to do that, the Lady Warriors have to finish in the top two slots in division play.
“This group of young ladies is very competitive. They are a very close-knit group and are hungry for championships. We expect this team to represent EC softball and uphold the tradition for which the Lady Warriors are known.”
Only four sophomores return from the 2014 team, which dropped a best-of-three series with Itawamba Community College during first-round playoffs and completed the season with a 33-16 overall record.
Mallory Turner, who played left field during her freshman season, will shift to third base and continue to be the leadoff hitter this season. She is a product of West Lauderdale High School and was the recipient of the Lady Warriors’ 2014 Hustle Award.
Former right fielder Anna Katherine Nowell will take over duties at first base and Karoline Holsonback will handle the majority of time at catcher. Nowell was an All-State and All-District player at Leake Academy and Holsonback is a product of South Lamar High School in Kennedy, Ala., where she was named West Alabama Most Outstanding Player.
Christen Benson, an All-District selection from Brookhaven High School, will see playing time in the outfield.
Freshmen and their respective high schools include pitchers Hannah Hassell, a product of Lamar County High School in Vernon, Ala., Lacey Hill, Killboourne, La., and Chloe Thaggard, Leake Academy; catchers Andi Hannaford, a product of Magnolia Heights School in Senatobia, and Cayla Myers, Magee; infielders Rachel Davis, Petal; Maegen Ellis, Oak Hill Academy, West Point; Mahalia Gibson, Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg; and Mallory Lee, Quitman; and outfielders Caitlyn Aldous, Petal; Katlyn Duke, Neshoba Central; and Summer Lavender, Canton Academy.
Chaney said freshmen members of the team are expected to play a key role this season.
“Each one of these young ladies will contribute to our success,” Chaney said. “Ellis, Gibson and Lee will hold down the middle. All four of our pitchers will be freshmen, but each is talented enough to carry that role. Thaggard and Hill will handle most of the pitching duties. We will have three freshmen in the outfield as well.”
Hassell was named to the Alabama Softball Top Ten, was an All-State and All-County selection and chosen Most Valuable Player.
Hill was selected Offensive Player of the Year and was named Most Valuable Player and All-District.
Thaggard was selected Most Valuable Player, Team Captain and All-Star.
Hannaford, an All-State and All-Conference selection, served as Team Captain and was named to the All-Star Team.
Myers was named Most Valuable Player.
Ellis was an All-Conference selection and named to the MAIS All-Star team.
Gibson was selected Best Defensive Player and Most Valuable Player and received the Slugging Award.
Lee is a three-time All-district selection and received the Infield Award her senior season.
Duke was an All-State and All-District selection and was chosen Best Defensive Player.
Lavender is an All-Distirct selection and was named team Most Valuable Player and All-Star.
Fans who attend Lady Warrior home games will also notice a new locker room, which was completed last summer.
“I am very pleased with our new locker room facility and I know our players will take pride in having a place of our own.”
Plans are also under way to eventually construct brick bull pens on the home and visitor sides of the field.
Courtney Nunn begins her third year as assistant coach.
Student managers are Justin Moore and John Davis, both of Leake Academy; Abigail McCool of Winston Academy; and Skyler Simmons, Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala.