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The Liberty Minettes start the season with enough pieces of the puzzle already in place that they have to be considered among the favorites for the Seminole softball crown. "Our goal is to win the District," said Head Coach Sherry Storey. "But nobody's going to hand us anything. We have to work hard."
The Minettes' hard work paid off last year when they won the District tournament. The many returning players are hungry for more.
Brooke Davis, last season's District Pitcher of the Year, returns to the mound for her senior season. If she displays the same speed and control as last season, she should be able to frustrate many opponents. Davis also has a good head on her shoulders, keeping calm in the rare tight spot.
If having Davis return isn't enough to frustrate Seminole opponents, seeing #2 pitcher Jen Coleman should do the trick. Coleman is a hard-nosed, persistent pitcher with good control. As she shakes off the cobwebs from basketball season, she will be a nice complement to Davis.
The receiving side of the Minette battery will, again, be Page Murphy. A strong defensive catcher with a decent arm, Murphy showed good resilience last year as she worked herself out of a batting slump to become a productive part of the offense.
The middle of the infield sees two more returning starters. Casey Bartholomew will anchor second base while most likely batting cleanup. the All-Seminole first team selectee is a solid player with a smooth swing.
Shortstop Savannah Graham returns for her senior season. Her sharp hitting and speed merit her leadoff spot in the batting order. Her base running intelligence should merit many scoring opportunities.
Over at third base, Stephanie Chambers has hung up her basketball shoes to take her place at the hot corner. Tough, and with cat-like reactions, the West Virginia-bound Chambers should add an additional layer of strength to the formidable Minette defense.
One of the few question marks is at first base. Junior Kelsey Davenport looked poised to take over the position, vacated when Hali Hubbard graduated. However, while Davenport has the tools to be as productive as was Hubbard, she has been plagued by a pesky knee injury since basketball season. Per Coach Storey, "Plan B is still being planned out."
The outfield will be led by center fielder Mattie Witt, a third year starter. Coach Storey knows she has a fielder to rely on, saying Witt, "Has great range and a cannon for an arm."
Will will be flanked by Coleman in left field, when she's not pitching. In right field, sophomore Hannah Martin is in place. Martin, a three sport athlete, has a good knowledge of the game, is fast and versatile at the plate.
Another senior, one of eight, is Brittany Key, who took a sabbatical from the team for two years, but has been welcomed back. A big hitter, Key can play third and is trying her hand at first as she knocks off the rust.
Adding depth are sophomore Brandy Lacy, another strong hitter who can help out in the infield and junior Brittany Pierce, who could help out in the outfield.
Coach Storey is understandably excited about this year. Sure, there is a chance to win a bunch. However, she points to how much she likes coaching this bunch. "This group is very good friends. There's not conflict; no drama," she said.
Of course, they are also motivated. "Winning the district tournament gave them confidence in themselves," she added.