PRCC softball coach White pleased with workouts

            POPLARVILLE – Twelve returning sophomores off last season’s 26-23 team that reached the semifinals of the Region 23 Tournament give Pearl River Community College softball coach Leigh White cause forCoach White optimism going into the 2014 season.
            “We should be one of the top teams in our division,” said White, who is beginning her 11th season. As far as our defense and our offense, we should be one of the best. Pitching is what has had our attention during fall workouts. The better our pitching gets, the further we will go.”
            Last year’s pitching corps, mainly Neely McCrary of Petal and all-MACJC star Brittany LeBlanc of Maurice, La., is mostly gone. LeBlanc is now playing at William Carey University.
            Also gone is all-Region 23 outfielder Whitney Waits of Oak Grove.
            Sophomore transfer Ashley Hawkins of Mobile, Ala., and sophomore Courtney Warr of Theodore, Ala., have to pick up the pitching slack with the help of freshmen Shelby Perry of Sumrall and sophomore Ashton Rogers of Poplarville.
            “They are a big key for us this year,” said White. “We have to stay healthy in the (pitching) circle and they have to continue to improve as we go along.”
Another bright spot for the team is the return of All-Region 23 sophomore Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove, who hit .352 last season. She caught every game last season. Her backups will be freshman Brooke Roberts of Gonzales, La., and sophomore Miranda Fazende of Poplarville.
Freshman Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove returns after offseason surgery to play first base with freshman Tatum Lott of Puckett as her backup.
Becky Mitchell of Pearl River Central and Kaci Lantrip of Terry are back at second and shortstop, respectively, with freshmen Shannon Buehler of Bay High, Hannah Holloway of Petal and Shelby Carter of Lucedale providing depth.
Sophomore all-state star Emily Jackson is back at third base with Rachel Breland of Poplarville as the backup.
Outfield returnees include Megan Scronce of Petal, Allie Flint of Madison Central and Micah Davis of Poplarville with freshmen Hannah and Breanna Herndon of Poplarville and Katelyn Lamb of Hancock providing depth.
“We should have one of the best defenses that has come across our school here,” said White. “We have some good hitters, too. We finished strong last season and I have seen some of that carry over this fall with our returning players.”
The Lady Wildcats played six games in a pair of tournaments during their six weeks of fall workouts.     
            “I feel pretty good about how we performed this fall,” said White. “Defensively and hitting, we will be okay. A better defense will give our pitchers more confidence.”
            Assisting White this season is former PRCC player Kim Boutwell and graduate assistant Morgan Necaise. Managers are Jared King and Eric Wells of Poplarville and Beth Brown of Pass Christian. 
            The Lady Wildcats open the season with back-to-back home doubleheaders, Feb. 10-11, against Faulkner (Ala.) State and East Mississippi Community College.
            The format for the MACJC championship changes next spring. According to White, the format will be similar to the one used in baseball, with a play-in series. Then the highest North Division team will host the state tournament.
Lee White’s record
Year                Won    Lost
2004                26        17
2005                19        14
2006                17        16
2007                25        31
2008                27        10
2009                30        16
2010                32        12
2011                21        23
2012                21        24
2013                26        23
Total             244        186