By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Entering the 2013 season, the defending District 13-3A champions Munford Lady Cougars have to worry about teams like Brighton, Hardin County, Dyer County and Jackson North Side.
And Glenn Goulder’s bunch even has to be concerned with one more team in the league — the Munford Cougars.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Goulder acknowledged. “Sometimes when teams are expected to accomplish a whole lot, they take things for granted. That’s one thing we’re trying not to do. We told the girls, ‘The potential is there, the talent is
there. But that does not mean that everybody is going to roll over and play dead. We’re going to have to go out and play everyday.’”
The reason why the Lady Cougars have high expectations is back-to-back trips to State winning a game last year. Entering this campaign all the key players are back except pitcher Paige Barnes and catcher Amanda Levin.
The leadership of that duo helped the current Lady Cougar senior class overcome deficits and near elimination to win district and Sub-State.
“The thing I appreciate about this group is they don’t quit,” Goulder recalled. “There were times last year things looked pretty bleak and we persevered. You’ve just have to play baseball or softball one out at a time, one inning at a time. This bunch realizes sometimes it takes patience and you have to do your part and your teammate will do theirs.”
Goulder said with their experience, togetherness and motivation to go further, he knows his players will stay focused throughout the season.
Munford will send veterans to the circle to try to shutdown opponents. Southwest Tennessee signees Alex Stanford and Tara Comer will be the hurlers for Goulder.
“They were good for us last year and we’re expecting good things out of them this year,” he said. “But we also have a freshman who is going to surprise some people in Sam Scott.
“She throws real hard and early in the season, we’re going to let her come in and close the door,” Goulder added. “We’re going to see how that works.”
The player catching those hurlers and replacing Levin will be Delta State signee Jessyca Baker. The senior will be a solid defender and game manager behind the plate.
“Baker is our catcher,” Goulder said. “She’s very talented. She’s got a lot of positives. She’s played a lot in the summer. And she’s played a lot for us as a pinch hitter and would back up Levin last year. I feel good about her behind the plate.”
Baker has been a contributor in recent years for the Lady Cougars at the plate. She will be counted on again in a lineup featuring Memphis signee Sami Jo Schulz. The senior earned her scholarship to the Big East school with her lethal glove at short, speed around the bases and high batting average.
“Sami Jo Schulz is going to lead off,” Goulder said. “Sami is extremely talented and very, very quick. Behind her we’re going to bat Tori Ray. Tori for a little girl has a lot of pop. She’s a good bunter and has good speed.
Then you’ve got reliable Jodie Duncan. Jodie you just take for granted how good she really is. Then you got a little pop in the bat with Turner as soon as she gets done with basketball. I’m expecting good things out of her. Then you’ll go Comer, Stanford, Baker, Maggie (Johnson) and on down the line.”
Johnson is another example of the loaded athleticism for the Lady Cougars as she’s entertaining college offers in soccer.
With his team gaining their focus, established pitching and a lineup full of experienced bats, Goulder said one issue has come to light as the start of the season approaches.
“Right now I’m concerned defensively,” he concluded. “We haven’t had a real good spring so far defensively. We’ve had some who have been sick. We’ve had some who had some injuries. We’ve moved some people around because of that. Hopefully everybody will get well and we’ll gel and things will be great. Offensively we’ve been OK. But defensively I’m worried right now.”