Categorized | Opinion

The Genuine Article: Watch List for 2012-13 Girls

[/media-credit] Jodie Duncan

The TSSAA 2012-13 sports calendar is nearing its start date.

Football will kickoff Week 0 on Aug. 17 with area teams like the Brighton Cardinals taking on state powerhouse Riverdale in Brighton. Then a few days later the girls will take the court and field competing in volleyball and soccer. Cross country will also be in full stride.

Then as the year progresses sports like basketball, track, softball and baseball will take center stage until May. And The Millington Star’s four schools Millington, Munford, Brighton and Tipton-Rosemark Academy will feature some of the best athletes the Volunteer State has to offer. For the next two weeks, The Star will feature 12 female and 12 male athletes in the coverage area to keep an eye out for this year.

Up first are the girls. With so much talent coming out of these four schools, it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 student/athletes. So her are 14 girls, a duo known as The Tee Towers, that will be making headlines.

Haley Craig (Brighton)

Haley Craig has been a fixture on the Brighton Lady Cardinals softball and volleyball teams the past three years. And now she will be a senior leader on and off the field. She is a smart and focused player. She is like a coach on the court and field. She makes adjustments in the game not only for herself but for teammates as well. Her speed and dependable bat will be a key part of the Lady Cardinal Softball team in 2013. As she goes the Brighton offense goes.

Katlyn Dupree (Millington)

The Lady Trojan standout has been a fixture in The Star since her eighth grade days at TRA. She ran point guard and ran circles around the competition on the soccer field. Now entering her senior year, Dupree is keeping those skills sharp. And in addition she’s putting up solid numbers in softball. As a junior she finished one vote short of winning The Millington Star Female Athlete of the Year.

Dupree is a cool customer on the field and uses her speed and dribbling skills to score points and set up teammates. She is the co-owner for most goals in a season at Millington and already has the career record for goals. Come out to see Dupree add to her records and help basketball and softball compete.

Mady Kate Gantt (TRA)

Hurry people and come out to see “The MKG Show” before it’s all over in May. With a personality to match her skill set, Gantt is worth the price of admission to Lady Rebel games in volleyball and especially in softball. She expects her role on the volleyball team to increase. But in softball she is the spark plug to the machine that has reached State the past two seasons. Her sophomore year she was the winning run in the State championship game. Last year she was the reliable glove in the outfield making difficult plays look routine. And she can hit the ball where the defense isn’t. Just in case the defense gets a glove on the ball, Gantt is a blur down the line.

Kelsey Hale (Munford)

Every year there seems to be an athlete who enters his or her senior year on a steady incline. Lady Cougar Kelsey Hale is the prime example of that for the Class of 2013. Entering high school, she had a background in several sports. But she picked volleyball to her focus. Over the years she has improved being able to play all six positions on the court. She dedicated herself by playing Metro Volleyball, spending extra time in the gym and attacking each game with a relentless style. Hale will join forces with Jodi Duncan, Sami Jo Schulz, Lauren Zvolanek and Cecily Gable to keep the Lady Cougar Volleyball program a top District 13-3A.

Ashton Needham (TRA)

Needham is one of the young Lady Rebel faces that makes up the volleyball team loaded with potential. But Needham is entering her junior year already a legend in softball. As a freshman she made clutch plays in the infield and came up with big hits to lead the team to a championship. Last year her power from the plate was timely in helping TRA make it back to State. Expect Needham to be a solid glove at first base and come up with the big hit driving in teammates like Gantt, Jordan Collins and Bayleigh Nale.

Lindsey Owen (Munford)

This name might be familiar to you readers. Owen was a freshman last year and participated in golf, basketball and softball. She took last year as a chance to learn and identify a role she will fulfill in each Lady Cougar program. She will learn from Madison Willis in golf to try to reach State. With her height she will look to be a force in the paint for the defending District 13-3A champion Lady Cougar Basketball team. And with Paige Barnes graduated, Owen will get her arm ready to pitch for the two-time State participant Lady Cougar Softball.

Sami Jo Schulz (Munford)

Sami Jo Schulz can easily be called Bambi. She is graceful, can leap with ease and runs around the bases so fast, you’ll be left looking like a deer caught in headlights in amazement. The senior will be a key part of the Lady Cougar Volleyball team’s bid for a sixth-straight Sub-State appearance. Schulz reminds those around the program of Scarlet Gable with her athletic ability near the net.

In softball, Schulz is drawing comparsions to none. She is one of a kind with her leadoff skills. And a warning to opponents, don’t hit the ball to the shortstop. It’s a guaranteed out once it’s in the glove of Schulz.

Lulu Smith (Brighton)

Smith and Craig make up the Barbie Twins. With their blonde hair and facial features similar to the iconic doll, the girls can past for sisters. But they are not related.

When spectators watch them play they might swear the girls are at least cousins. They both are clutch players, passionate and good teammates. Smith has sacrifices glory on the volleyball and softball teams to see other teammate shine. She is the consistent force that makes those teams successful. She can play any spot on the court. And in softball she’s an athletic second base. Smith grabbed a headline last year with a game-winning homer. Expect more of that in 2012-13.

Alex Stanford (Munford)

Last year The Assassin was born. Stanford became the first Munford pitcher to win a game in the State Tournament. But her legend grew long before that May day. She was the pitcher Coach Glenn Goulder called on in the big game in the crucial situations all season to get the Lady Cougars a victory. She shot down the competition in helping her team reach State. She came in to save the season in Regionals to beat Bolton. And she was in the circle when the Lady Cougars crush Houston to reach State for the second year in a row.

Stanford is a good bat as well batting .333 last year. She drove in the winning run in the Lady Cougars’ first win at State. She had 42 hits in the season with 25 RBIs.

But pitching will be her main calling card after finishing 2012 with a 1.15 ERA, striking out 110 batters in 115 innings. Sorry opponents, The Assassin is back from that shoulder injury suffering her sophomore year.

Lauren Zvolanek (Munford)

Z Girl is an easy way for this report not to say Zvolanek. But in the past three years, Lauren has made so many big plays in basketball and volleyball that her name echoed over public address systems all over the Mid-South. Where she goes, it seems championship success follows. She is a key hitter on the volleyball team and can block at the net.

In basketball she plays power forward. But she can step out and knock down the three-pointer. Her senior year will big. So I’ll have spell check ready on all my computers because Zvolanek will be in the middle of all the success for both programs.

Tiara Caldwell & Treasure Redding (Millington)

Ok, I’ll admit I’m sneaking in extra athletes under the disguise of duos. For the past two seasons Millington Basketball has enjoyed the The Tee Towers of Tiara Caldwell and Treasure Redding. Both are entering their senior seasons helping the program improve each year. Last season Millington finished second in the district during the regular season. Caldwell was the leading scorer and a candidate for player of the year in the league. She is a double-double machine. Caldwell can finish the ball with either hand. And is a magnetic to the ball in the art of rebounding.

Meanwhile Redding is more of a small forward trapped in a center’s body. She can step out and hit the three-pointer. She has a mid-range game NBA envy. And she can guard the opposing No. 3. If the Towers stay out of foul trouble, expect Millington to improve on that second place finish.

Alex Turner & Jodi Duncan (Munford)

Finally we’ve reached Mickey Mantle/Roger Maris of the Lady Cougars. Alex Turner and Jodi Duncan seem to take turns torching opposing pitchers last year. Both hit the long ball with regularity. Turner started the season hot hitting two-run homers weekly. Once hurlers tried to pitch around her, Duncan became the explosive bat in the lineup.

By the time May hit the calendar, both girls were in the zone hitting doubles, going to opposite field and drawing walks. They exercise patience and intelligence at the plate.

They put team first. Turner gets to do that in basketball as well. And Duncan will start her year off with volleyball playing setter.

 

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