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Lady Longhorns open with pair of wins

JACKSON — Marengo Academy (2-0) opened its varsity softball season Thursday with a pair of wins over Patrician and host Clarke Prep in the Gator Classic. The Lady Longhorns defeated Patrician 11-0 in three innings of play before dropping CPA 7-1.

Junior hurler Jessica Brock pitched the first game, throwing three innings, striking out two and allowing only one hit while walking one. She turned the circle over to freshman Ally Vick in the second game. Vick went three innings and gave up one unearned run while striking out three, walking none and surrendering two hits.

“They looked good,” head coach Todd Mathis said of his young pitching duo. “They both had good movement on the ball.”

Katie Tucker led a slew of productive hitters. The freshman shortstop went a combined 7-for-7 during the two games with two triples and three runs scored.

Tucker is one of two freshmen in the Lady Longhorns’ starting lineup. The other is Reesa Holifield, who has taken over the team’s starting catcher duties.

“I was very uncertain going into the tournament, but she did good,” Mathis said of Holifield’s performance.

The MA head coach is adjusting to a very different formula for the 2010 campaign. A season ago, his team was built around a senior core of Michelle Pritchett, Chelsea Etheridge, Amber Walker and Abby Huckabee. This year, his only seniors are center fielder Shelby Mathis, second baseman Kaliegh Robison and first baseman Anna Edmonds, who is playing despite an ACL injury.

That means his defense has new starters at seven of the nine spots with Mathis shifting to center from right field.

“We looked good,” he said of his team’s defense on opening day. “We had one gaffe and that was it. When we had to make plays, we made them.”

Mathis’ team is also offering a different look at the plate than it has in years past. The 2009 Lady Longhorns could trust in the home run capability of Walker, Huckabee and Etheridge. This year, that power is shorter supply. Still, Mathis is confident that his team will be dangerous offensively.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be the same. We’re not going to have the long ball like we did last year. But we’ve got some strikers and they can fly,” Mathis said of the increased speed of his roster. “From what I saw, we’re going to be just as potent. We’re just going to have a little different style.”

That style will be on display again Saturday when the team returns to Jackson to play two more games in the Gator Classic.