By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Preparing its title defense
Elia Atterson.jpg
Sophomore Elia Atterson could step into a big role for the Lady Pioneer softball team this season.
Grace Rains (3).jpg
Senior Grace Rains is the lone starting outfielder returning this season. Rains is one of six returning starters for the defending District 6AAA champions.

Rain has done what no District 6AAA opponent has been able to do the last two years. Weather has found a way to slow down the Lady Pioneer softball team.

The defending district champions have been chomping at the bit to get back on the diamond, but the process has been slowed so far by flooding. Play dates set for Oakland and Shelbyville set for this week were both cancelled.

Even with the majority of his nucleus returning from last year’s district tournament champions – the first in program history – coach Gooby Martin would like to hit the field to fill a few holes.

“We lost our No. 3 hitter Hope Mullican (the district’s offensive MVP) and our No. 4 hitter Kyra Hillis, who had as much power as anyone in the district,” said Martin. “We also lost our most consistent defensive player in 1B Lexie Chadwell.”

The middle infield remains intact though with a pair of seniors who have already signed to play at the next level. Hailey Wood, the reigning district player of the year, is back at second base. She’s joined by shortstop and Tennessee Wesleyan signee Emily Mikkola, who won the defensive player of the year award last season.

Wood, who signed with Univerity of the Cumberlands last fall, knows the team can do big things this season.

“The team is looking good and I’m expecting a lot from us this year,” said Wood. “We are so close to reaching our goal of a state tournament and winning. That’s what we’re shooting for this year. 

“I am beyond excited, even though it’s my last season. This group of girls is special and we’ll accomplish a lot as a team.”

The roster is stacked with talented and experienced seniors, including Ashton Whiles, Maddie Cantrell, Grace Rains, Marah Wanamaker and Bri Young.

Whiles is likely to play third base when she’s not pitching. She’s also on pace to break the school’s home-run record, having already hit 12 in her career. 

Whiles, Cantrell and sophomore Rhealee Johnson comprise a rotation which could be the strongest in the district. Johnson came on late last season, earning starts in both the district championship and in the program’s first-ever region home game.

Returning all-district performer MaKenna Mason is rock solid as the team’s backstop. She also headlines a junior class which features Savannah Cox and Calyn Damon. 

The Lady Pioneers can rely on sophomore outfielder Elia Atterson to replace some pop in the lineup, but filling Chadwell’s spot at first base may be a bit more challenging.

“I have no idea right now. It’s wide open,” said Martin.

There won’t be a lack of options. The Lady Pioneers have plenty of depth, with the team’s youngest players being responsible for back-to-back CTC championships while playing at WCMS.

Joining Johnson and Atterson in the sophomore class are Samantha Jennings, Kaydee Rains, Taylor Swan, Sadie Simmons and Kadence Ledbetter. The freshman class includes Madison Hollis, Halo Armstrong, Aleya Esparza, Mea Starkey, Marli McBride, Bella Cantrell and Danika Reno.

The Lady Pioneers are set to open their season Monday, March 11 at Coffee County. The team will make its home debut Tuesday, March 12 against DeKalb County.