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Lady Longhorns back to business

The Marengo Academy softball team returns to the diamond this week to start its quest to begin what it considers unfinished business. The 2008 MA ladies advanced to the state finals before falling to Lowndes Academy.

“It’s revenge time. It’s time to get them back,” senior Amber Walker said of the team’s expectation of encountering Lowndes Academy again.

While the 2009 Lady Longhorns have high expectations, they also know they have work to do if they are going to have the chance to achieve their ultimate goal of winning a state championship.

“We’ve got the core of (the 2008 team) back,” head coach Todd Mathis said of a team that returns six seniors and seven starters. “I think we’ll be okay.”

The Longhorns will return Walker to the catcher’s spot. She also figures to share some time with junior Anna Edmonds at first base. Sophomore Jessica Brock and junior Kaliegh Robison will platoon at second base. Senior Michelle Pritchett will play short when she is not in the pitcher’s circle. When Pritchett does pitch, Robison will defend the six-hole. Senior Abbey Huckabee will return to hold down the hot corner.

The outfield mix includes juniors Carrie Pope and Shelby Mathis as well as freshman Destiny Huckabee and senior Shonna Hammond. Senior Chelsea Etheridge returns as the team’s starting center=2

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The biggest “X” factor for the ladies is likely its No. 2 pitcher. The success of the 2008 squad was largely predicated on the effectiveness of No. 1 starter Ashley Stokes and No. 2 hurler Pritchett.

“We bring Michelle back as our senior. She’s been pitching for us forever,” Mathis said. “We’ve got two good pitchers again.”

The 2009 Lady Longhorns move Pritchett to the No. 1 slot while running Brock out in the second spot of the rotation.

“She’s going to have a big step from junior high to varsity,” Etheridge said of Brock. “We’ve just got to support her and back her up.”

Mathis is confident in his team’s ability to perform in the field.

“I think our pitching is good enough to carry us,” Mathis said. “It’s going to be our hitting (that will be the key in determining success). We’ve got a couple of big power hitters. If we can bring everyone else along, we’ll be in good shape.”