Vicksburg reloads in youth movement|Prep softball

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2010

After recording two straight winning seasons and earning a pair of Class 4A playoff berths, it will be back to the drawing board this season for Vicksburg coach Amanda Yocum and her Missy Gators’ softball team.

Vicksburg returns just two starters off last year’s 14-13 club that hosted a playoff series against Pontotoc. Gone are All-County mainstays Kristi Shelby and Claiborne Bryant. Shelby had done almost 95 percent of the pitching over the past four seasons and Bryant had been the team’s most consistent bat during the same span.

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Yocum knows she faces a challenge.

“OK, we’re very young and we’re starting over. We have one senior starter and one junior starter back. Everybody else is in the seventh, eighth or ninth grade,” Yocum said.

“We’ve worked a lot on fundamentals, mainly how to field and how to throw. They’ve come ready to work every day,” Yocum said.

Offensively, the Missy Gators will have to learn on the job.

“We’ve worked on handling fastballs. We are just looking to make contact,” Yocum said.

Yocum will look at three different girls to take over Shelby’s role in the pitching circle.

“We have three in Faith Thomas, Paige Bowser and Leah Davies, who will do the pitching time. As for the rest of the positions, it’s going to take quite a few games for us to settle things,” Yocum said.

Davies and the team’s lone senior, Tira Erwin, are the only returning starters. Davies played third base last year but will move to first base and pitch. Erwin will return to her center field spot.

Two eighth graders will be counted on to play big roles. Blake DeRossette, who had a good fall campaign in slow-pitch, fill a variety of roles.

“She’s the swing player. Short, catcher, wherever we need her,” Yocum said.

Sydney Bufkin, the other eighth grader, will get work at catcher.

Two ninth graders, Bowser and Heather Middleton, have made strides. Bowser will play both second and third base while Middleton is getting time in the outfield.

Contact Jeff Byrd at