By Austin Bishop / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Kristen Chaney isn't trying to re-invent the wheel during her first year running the East Central Community College fast-pitch softball program, she just wants to keep those wheels well-greased and headed in the right direction.
"The program is in great shape," Chaney said. "Coach (Scott) Hill built an outstanding program here. We just want to continue building upon the tradition that has already been started here and eventually become time that is successful on the national level."
Chaney, may be in her first year as head coach at ECCC, but she certainly knows her way around the Decatur campus. She was Hill's assistant coach the past four years and starred as a player for two seasons with the Warriors, gaining All-State, All-Region honors as well as being selected as an NJCAA All-American.
"We always have high expectations," Chaney said. "We want to maximize our talent and try to compete for a South Division title, then the State, then the region."
Chaney said ECCC has an opportunity to draw top-flight players to its campus.
"I think it is in a good location in central Mississippi, especially since the state has opened up recruiting," she said.
MACJC schools are no longer bound by district lines when recruiting in-state athletes.
Chaney has six sophomores on her 16-player squad that opens the 2013 season today at home against Baton Rouge (La.) Community College. The doubleheader is expected to begin at 3 p.m.
Chaney said she is looking for a lot of strong innings out of sophomore Teena Patterson on the mound, while second baseman LaJoya Griffin will be looked to for a lot of leadership on and off the field.
"We will be turning to her for a lot of innings," Chaney said of Patterson. "She pitched the bulk of the games last year."
The first-year coach hopes to have a little pop in the lineup offensively, but is also counting a lot of speed to help produce some runs.
"We are just going to play the game the right way," she said. "We have some players who are capable of driving in some runs with power, but if we need to move runners along on the bases, then we will do that as well."
Hayley Stevens of Union and Dakota Vowell of Neshoba Central are being looked at to handle the catching chores, while Ty Buckley of Neshoba Central is at first, where she will get some help from Malauri Robinson of Enterprise.
Griffin is at second, with Lindsey Beard of Clarkdale and Amber McBroom at short. Seeing time at third will be be Stevens and McBroom.
Kristen Chipley of Leake Academy and Morgan Porter of Enterprise are in center field, with Marlee Massey (Neshoba Central), Laken Fulcher and Porter in left. Looking for playing time in right are Casey Cherry of Union, A.J. Peeler of Neshoba Central and Porter.
Mary Sanders and McBroom will be providing some depth on the mound for the Warriors.