Co-Lin’s 2020 softball season outcome left to question
In a 24-hour span in late February, the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Lady Wolves shook up the JUCO softball world with a 7-6, 17-8 sweep over the No. 3 team in the nation, Des Moines Area out of Iowa, followed by an 8-2 win over No. 5 ranked Highland Community College from Kansas. The wins shot the Lady Wolves up the national poll from just receiving votes the week before to the No. 4 team in the country. Heading into MACJC play, Co-Lin was firing on cylinders and defeated Meridian 3-2 before trouncing the Lady Eagles in the nightcap, 19-3. The wins moved the team up one spot in the national poll to No. 3, the highest the team had ever been ranked in a weekly poll. When the season was called off due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, the Lady Wolves were 12-1, 2-0.
“Play every game like it’s your last is something we always try to instill in our players,” said Co-Lin head softball coach Meleah Howard. “Never in my life would I have guessed that something like this would take our season away, but obviously we understand the reasoning for it and that every decision made has been in an effort to keep everyone safe. That, unfortunately, does not make it any easier to adjust to a situation such as this. We started our season 12-1 with a lot of great energy and enthusiasm from the girls. They were excited about playing the game, and it showed in their performance on the field.”
The excitement that the Lady Wolves brought to the diamond was shared by support from the community as the home games saw massive crowds. Fans were not left without entertainment either as Co-Lin was powerful at the plate and showed stellar athleticism in the field. Co-Lin’s Carlon Brabham and Abigail Carter led the Lady Wolves at the plate as they both posted .444 batting averages. The duo also combined for nine homers over the brief season. Brabham led the Lady Wolves with a .944 slugging percentage and 20 RBI. Delaine McMillan was 10-for-25 at the plate for a .400 average, while six other Lady Wolves batted .300 plus with at least 10 at-bats. Those include Macy Ziskin, Katelyn Hayman, April Lynn, Johnna Norman, Molly Davis, and Baileigh Jackson.
In the circle, the Lady Wolves were led by Kaytlon Ward who threw 47.2 innings. The sophomore stuck out 59 batters in that span, walking just 14. Ward finished the year with a 6-0 record and a 2.06 ERA, and NJCAA Pitcher of the Week honors under her belt. Karlie Johnson was also stellar from the rubber as she threw 23.2 innings. She struck out 17 and surrendered just five runs for a 1.48 ERA. Johnson finished the year with a 5-0 record. Bella Luckey and Alexis Garoutte were also key for the Lady Wolves in the circle in the abbreviated season.
The Lady Wolves are on track to lose 10 sophomores to graduation at the end of the school year in 2020, one of those being Maddux Kirkland of Monticello.
“This sophomore class was unbelievable in the fact that they bought in from day one of last season and set the bar high for everyone they played with,” said Howard. “I owe them so much for everything they have given to Co-Lin Softball. Some of them will be moving on to play at the next level, and I look forward to keeping up with them and supporting them all through their next adventure.”
The shortened season leaves a lot of fans and players asking “what if,” and rightfully so, but one thing is certain, the Co-Lin softball program is becoming a statewide powerhouse with a 43-18 record over the past two seasons.
“Moving forward, the future is very bright. Our incoming freshman class has an exceedingly high talent level and is quite versatile. We look forward to getting started with them as soon as we can,” said Howard. “This experience will only help bolster our argument to all of our players that every practice, workout, class, game,—even every pitch—needs to be given the utmost attention and effort because we never know when it could be done. We will rely on our returning players to imbed this into the incoming players as the upperclassmen take on their new leadership role and direct our program moving forward. I am looking forward to just getting to lay eyes on all the girls again and I admit that I miss them so much and just am hopeful to get them back on campus soon.”