Lady Vikes looking sharp during summer softball schedule

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Familiar uniform numbers like 5, 7 and 22 headed to their positions and ran around the bases like always for Warren Central on Tuesday.

The people wearing them were not as familiar.

Coming off their best season in a decade, the Lady Vikes have begun the process of replacing five senior starters — four of whom will play college softball — and things are going well so far. They improved to 5-0 during an eight-game summer schedule by beating Terry 14-1 and Riverside 8-0 Tuesday at Lucy Young Field.

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“We’ve got a lot of positions to fill. The girls are stepping up and working hard,” Warren Central coach Brian Ellis said. “We’re not going over a lot of major strategy stuff. Just basics.”

Last summer, Ellis was just taking over as head coach. Most of the time was spent building trust and familiarity with each other. This June, he said the Lady Vikes are able to focus more on softball and figuring out how pieces fit.

“We’ve got an idea of where we would like for them to play when it comes to the regular season, but we’re still able to do some different things,” he said.

One of the biggest tasks is seeing who will replace the departed seniors who have handed down their uniform numbers to younger teammates. Getting them game reps, Ellis said, is a major goal.

“You’ve got six positions, basically, that don’t have a lot of varsity experience and some of them none. So it’s trying to get through that,” he said.

Three pitchers — Keke McKay, Emily Muirhead and K.K. Williamson — saw time in the circle Tuesday and allowed a total of one run. Muirhead and Williamson combined for the shutout against Riverside.

Top pitcher Madison Pant, the 2024 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, played in both games, but did not pitch.

Ellis said he’s been careful not to overwork his pitchers, since high school softball is only part of the summer schedule. Most of the team’s players are affiliated with various travel teams and play with them in weekend tournaments.

Warren Central is practicing on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and playing games in the evenings on those days. They have three games left, on Thursday at Florence and then at home against Terry on June 25 and Riverside on June 27. All are junior varsity-varsity doubleheaders that begin at 5 p.m.

“(McKay and Pant) both throw for their tournament team so they’re going to get plenty of reps with that. We’re not trying to overdo that,” Ellis said. “The majority of our girls play travel ball, too, so I’m not trying to wear them out. I’m just trying to get us to where we’re playing as a team. Our position players can get used to our pitchers and the speed they want to pitch, and that kind of stuff.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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