Lady Colonels look to defend state title
By James Beasley
“The bull’s eye is on your back,” Copiah Academy fastpitch softball coach Terry Bauer tells his team as they get ready to defend their MAIS AAA State Championship in the upcoming season. “You’d better be ready.” On paper it appears they are. Bauer is beginning his 14th season as the Lady Colonels’ coach, and somehow it seems they never rebuild. They just reload. And though they’re young, they will no doubt be the prohibitive favorites in the South AAA.
Trying to unseat the champions will be Jackson Prep, Parklane, Hillcrest Christian, Starkville, East Rankin, and Presbyterian Christian. According to Bauer, the biggest threats appear to be Parklane because of its pitching and Prep due to its longstanding tradition.
“If our pitching is consistent and we stay healthy, we should be in the thick of things,” the 43-year-old Stringer native says.
During the 2011 championship season, Copiah had 410 total hits, including 97 doubles, 10 triples, and 17 home runs. Bauer expects the Lady Colonels to do even better this year. “Hitting and power are our strengths,” he says. “We should see some offensive improvement even though we’re still young.
“We have two of the better pitchers in our district,” he continued, referring to Kaitlyn Taylor and Jordan Jones. “Actually we’ve got not one, but two aces. We’ve just got to be consistent and throw strikes.” He also hopes to use Lindsey Walker on the mound once her knee rehab is complete. In addition, Shelby Wilson may see some action.
Copiah lost four seniors off last year’s “dream team” that went 39-6: Morgan Brown, Kacie Berry, Elizabeth Cliburn, and Meghan Johnson, who was named “Daily Leader” Player of the Year. All four signed scholarships with Co-Lin Community College. During Bauer’s tenure, at least a dozen girls have gone on to play college ball.
Despite its youth, this year’s squad appears to be solid. Infielder/outfielder Carleigh Roberts and outfielder Kaitlin Cooksey are the only seniors. Cooksey is a newcomer and the daughter of Steven Cooksey, CA’s new baseball coach. Juniors are pitcher/third baseman Kaitlyn Taylor and outfielder Sara Ray.
Sophomores include infielder/catcher Kamryn Vanlandingham, pitcher/outfielder Jordan Jones, infielder Lindsey Walker, infielder Kelli Berry, infielder/catcher Kelly Byrd, infielder/outfielder Victoria Allen, and outfielder Kaylie Carpenter. The only freshmen are infielders Sarah Beth Miller and Cassidy Brown.
Two 8th-graders will be listed on both the varsity and junior varsity rosters: catcher/infielder Emily Ferrell and infielder/pitcher Shelby Wilson. The JV will have three other 8th-graders: infielder Chloe Cooper, outfielder Bayleigh Sifford, and outfielder Drew Seale.
Seventh-graders on the JV team include pitcher/catcher/infielder Hannah Walls, pitcher/outfielder Julia Smith, pitcher/infielder Courtney Hollis, infielder Meg Watts, and outfielders Allie Lott, Peyton White, and Madeline Tovar.
Longtime assistant coach Kevin Roos will return for his tenth season with Bauer. “Our team is young,” the head coach joked. “Roos and I are the only ones getting older.”
The Lady Colonels have been practicing since July 5. They will open the season on July 30 when they host Bayou Academy, the MAIS State A Champs for the past 6 consecutive seasons.
The Lady Colonel Classic is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, with games getting underway at 8:00 AM. Participating schools will include Prep, Parklane, MRA, Centreville, Silliman, Bowling Green, Amite, and CA.