East Webster softball looks to replace strong senior group

Staff Writer

Replacing talented players is nothing new for Lee Berryhill at East Webster, but he has had to do it quite often in recent years.

From the loss of former All-Area players like Autumn Frost, Mamie Hollenhead and Bailie Springfield, who dominated junior college softball to recent Players of the Year Jennah Pate and Jessica Davis, the program has taken a hit on seasoned players. That hasn’t stopped the Lady Wolverines from continuing to compete for district and state titles as they fight back from adversity.

As slow pitch season now is right around the corner, Berryhill is hoping he has some players step in to fill the void left by the recent graduation of Davis, Mari-Todd Brown and Emily Nason.

“Each year you have to replace the seniors that you lost and we lost a good senior group this year,” Berryhill said. “They did a great job for us. they were good leaders and good ball players and they carried us. It’s hard to replace them. You just have to work to replace them and each year juniors and seniors have to do that.

“Curtlyn Blake, Sydney Dewberry and Josie Reed are our only three seniors and we have two juniors. They’ve got to be leaders and not just role players.”

Last season saw East Webster fight through some early adversity with a 1-3 start to produce a strong second half. It rolled off 10-straight wins and won 19 of 21 games going into the playoffs.

Eventually, the Lady Wolverines made it to within just two games of a state title trip. They lost to Hamilton, which was a team that beat them four times last year in their 21-8 season. Several of those players are seasoned after that season and the fast pitch season and will be ready for the competition in a tough Class I, Region 4 district that includes Hamilton, Vardaman, Houlka, Bruce, Calhoun City and Okolona.

The pre slate ahead of those games will be just as challenging as Berryhill likes to have his players ready for the challenge. East Webster starts the season in a jamboree at Neshoba Central where it plays the nation’s best softball team in the Lady Rockets and also Philadelphia, which knocked the Lady Wolverines out of the fast pitch playoffs earlier this year.

“Our schedule is usually pretty good and our conference schedule is good,” Berryhill said. “I just kind of mix that schedule in with championship teams and other teams to give us a test. You’ve got to keep working every day. You want to play better teams early to find out what you’ve got and where you want to be. We’re playing to be the best team in Class 2A.”

East Webster begins the season in that jamboree on August 4 and also play in the Eupora Classic on August 11.

While practices haven’t begun to this point, the players have been preparing for softball most of the summer.

“Some of them have been coming in with coach (Kenneth) Wade and working with him on lessons,” Berryhill said. “Some of them have been playing travel ball for the summer. You don’t know until you get them all together, but we’re looking forward to it.”