Lady Bulldogs expect big things

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Cornersville senior softball players Kelsey Wortham (left) and Mary Taylor Hickman (right) hope to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a successful 2015 season. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

Having failed to advance past the District 11-A tournament the last three years, the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs are looking to get over the hump this season with the help of eight returning starters from a squad that posted a 16-12 record and placed third in the conference during the 2014 campaign.

Senior starting pitcher Mary Taylor Hickman leads a very strong Cornersville pitching staff after posting an 8-4 record, tallying a 1.53 ERA, and racking up 135 strikeouts last year en route to earning All-District honors. Hickman possesses an overpowering fastball and can keep hitters off balance with her rise ball and changeup.

Cornersville senior pitcher Mary Taylor Hickman will be the Lady Bulldogs' staff ace this season after posting an 8-4 record and a 1.53 ERA last year.

Key player

"We expect big things from Mary Taylor and we're building our defense around her. She keeps the ball low and has a lot of movement," said CHS coach Eric Crabtree.

Freshman hurler Mikaela King provides the Lady Bulldogs with a quality number two starter. After seeing some time in the circle last year as an eighth grader, King has improved her velocity and has great command of her off speed pitches.

Junior third baseman Carson Coble headlines the Lady Bulldog infield. An All-District selection last year, Coble is a line drive hitter that likes to work the count and finished the 2014 campaign with a .405 batting average. Coble is also a good fielder at the hot corner and can play multiple positions in the infield.

"Carson is a huge leader for us and is willing to sacrifice her body to make a play," said Crabtree.

Strong armed sophomore Madison Hopkins is one of the most athletic players on the team and is capable of making all the plays at shortstop. Hopkins has developed more power at the plate and will likely bat third for the Lady Bulldogs this season after finishing her freshman year with a .394 batting average.

Sophomore Kirsten Young will likely start at first base this year and has become a more consistent player in all facets of the game. Young also saw time at second and third base last season and provides Cornersville with some flexibility in their lineup.

After breaking into the starting lineup midway through last season as eighth graders, freshmen Hannah Singleton and Emma Mitchell return at second base and catcher respectively. Singleton is a reliable fielder and a good contact hitter, while Mitchell has a strong arm and can hit for power at the plate.

Outfielders

Junior center fielder Miranda Cooksey anchors Cornersville's outfield that also includes senior right fielder Kelsey Wortham and sophomore left fielder Samantha Prosser. Cooksey can cover a lot of ground in the outfield and reads the ball well off the bat. She is also a strong hitter and posted a .367 batting average last year.

Along with being a good bunter, Wortham makes consistent contact at the plate and had some big clutch hits for the Lady Bulldogs last season.

Although she had to recover from a knee injury that she suffered last summer, Prosser is a very fast and athletic player that has a strong arm and a lot of power in her bat.

Sophomores Taylor Ingram and Courtney Darnell are expected to be Cornersville's two top bench players this season. Ingram is a utility player that gives CHS depth at multiple positions, while Darnell has good power at the plate and will back up Young at first base.

Madison Spivey (Jr.), Alana Braden (Soph.), Taylor Young (Fr.), Christina Henline (Fr.), Hannah Hart (Fr.), and Marilynn Guzman (Fr.) are working hard to earn some playing time as well.

Cornersville shortstop Madison Hopkins is expected to have another big season at the plate after recording a .394 batting average as a freshman last year.

'Complete' team

"It's probably the most complete team that I've had," said Crabtree, who is entering his fourth year as head coach. "We want to get through the District tournament this year, but we have one of the toughest Districts around. "Our goal is to get better every game and make a run in the playoffs."

With Richland losing several key players from a team that advanced to the Sectional round of the playoffs last year, Cornersville has a chance to challenge for the District title this season, but will have to contend with a powerful Columbia Academy squad, which finished third in the Class A State Tournament in 2014. Mt. Pleasant could be a candidate to claim one of the top two spots in the District as well and knocked CHS out of the playoffs last year.

2015 Cornersville Lady Bulldogs softball schedule

Date Opponent Location Time

March 10 Columbia Academy Home 5:00

March 13 Santa Fe Home 5:00

March 16 Marshall County Home 5:00

March 19 Fayetteville Home 5:30

March 20 Culleoka Home 5:00

March 23 Cannon County Home 5:30

March 24 Mt. Pleasant Home 5:00

March 26 Richland Away 5:00

March 30 Page (Doubleheader) Away 5:30

April 6 Marshall County Away 5:00

April 7 Zion Christian Academy Home 5:30

April 9 Richland Home 5:00

April 10 Zion Christian Academy Tournament Away TBA

April 11 Zion Christian Academy Tournament Away TBA

April 13 Columbia Academy Away 5:00

April 16 Mt. Pleasant Away 5:00

April 21 Santa Fe Away 5:00

April 23 Culleoka Away 5:00

April 24 Franklin Sonic Tournament (at Fly Park) Away TBA

April 25 Franklin Sonic Tournament (at Fly Park) Away TBA

April 28 Fayetteville Away 5:00

April 30-May 8 District 11-A Tournament Home TBA