By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Entering the TSSAA 2013-14 calendar year, The Genuine Article will feature 13 girls and boys to watch out for in The Millington Star coverage area. Expect more excitement at Tipton-Rosemark Academy, Munford, Brighton and Millington from the fall to the spring. As usual, the girls are first.
One of the most athletic students on the Millington Central High School campus is Sierra Williams. She has been a vital part of the recent success of the Lady Trojan Volleyball program. Williams’ athleticism and intelligence on the court will be needed this season. She will be a senior leader and her club volleyball experience will be used to guide her younger teammates. Williams will need to step up her game at the net with kills and blocks if the Lady Trojans want to stay near the top of District 14-3A.
Speaking of athletic Lady Trojans, Kendra Richardson makes the 2013 Watch List because of her success in 2012-13. She was the point guard on the District 14-3A championship basketball team and reached the medal stand at State in the High Jump. If she stays healthy, expect to see Richardson back at State in more than one event. And the senior will be the leader of the Lady Trojan Basketball team with the departure of five seniors. Working on her jumper and finish at the basket, expect Richardson to be one of the leading scorers in the Shelby-Metro area.
Don’t let the Disney name fool you, Ariel Trice is all about her business when she’s on the volleyball court or on the diamond. She first blasted on the season with her cannon arm on the left side of the field. Her bat has improved over the years with her being one of the top hitters for the Lady Trojans. She will see more time on the volleyball court this year and her defensive skills will be needed in that sport as well.
Last year Tipton-Rosemark Academy and the Shelby-Metro Area was introduced to Bethany Berger. We had an entire year to enjoy and admire the skills of Berger through volleyball, basketball and softball. It’s hard to determine which is her best sport, she’s good at all of them. If I had to pick one, right now I would place basketball in the first position. She can run the floor and go coast-to-coast. Once her jumper is more consistent, Berger will be even more lethal. Volleyball she’ll be a contributor with points, and in softball she’ll be near the top of the lineup setting the table for her teammates. Expect a big junior year from Ms. Berger.
“The Beast” was also unleashed at TRA last year. Taylor Beasley shined in her freshman year on the hardwood and softball diamond. Her physical maturity will ensure her improvement in both sports. Beasley already displays the will to battle in the paint with bigger girls and keep pace with all guards. In softball, she is a solid fielder at third base and her on-base percentage will be crucial to the continued success of the Lady Rebels. As “The Beast” continues to grow, her superior knowledge and intelligence will only get better.
She has already been a vital part of a State championship at TRA. Now Ashton will be one of the leaders on and off the diamond for the Lady Rebel Softball team. She’s a good all-around athlete but even smarter player. She brings the mental approach to the game needed to be successful. Last year, she took on some of the pitching duties. But she built her name at the plate. The bang of her bat will be needed to drive in the formention Berger and Beasley to keep the good times rolling at TRA.
It seems like she’s been at Munford since the mid 2000s. But Duncan burst on the scene in Cougar Town just four years ago. She’s finally a senior and the UT-Martin verbal commitment will be making headlines in volleyball and her college sport softball. Duncan adds personality to any team she’s a part of with her charm and humor. On the field or court, Duncan is crucial to her team’s success as a setter and clean-up hitter. But most importantly Duncan is a supportive teammate. Last year a hand injury sidelined her. That didn’t stop her from showing up in the dugout and rooting her teammates onto State.
I’ve nicknamed Precious Mills, Crystal Light because she remains of one of the best female athletes to come through Munford. And just like Crystal Williams, Mills plays volleyball and basketball. Entering her junior year, Mills will be counted on to produce more and she’ll see more time in both sports. Mills has the pedigree for success being closely related to Millington Star greats like Michelle, Jamal and Whitney Malone. So look for Mills’ speed, quickness, leaping ability and skills to help both Lady Cougar teams in 2013-14.
The freshman pitcher with a bat was how Scott was built before she put on a Lady Cougar uniform. And with game-winning home run at State last year, Scott put everyone on notice. With two great pitchers in Alex Stanford and Tara Comer graduated, it’s time for Scott to take control of the circle.
I was impressed by the skills Scott brings to the diamond but I was even more impressed by her intelligence and knowledge of the game during interviews. It takes a strong mind to be a good pitcher in Tipton County. Scott is ready.
“All Day” Alli Christmas is like Duncan. She’s been so good for so long, it seems she was playing at Brighton during the Bush Administration. But the talented Lady Cardinal will be a senior leader in all the sports she’ll play this year. In volleyball, Christmas emerged as a go-to outside hitter. She will be needed to fulfill that role this season. And in softball, Christmas will bat near the top of the line up and be a solid defender in the middle infield. Brighton should enjoy their “Christmas Gift” for one more season.
Christmas will be one of the gloves behind Seelay Layne this year. Layne is another talented sophomore hurler in Tipton County. After her freshman year for the Lady Cardinals, Layne was named to an All-State team. She dominated in junior varsity competition and looks to translate that success to the varsity level in 2014. Layne vs. Scott should be fun to write about for a few years.
The babyface blonde who arrived on the scene a few years ago is still adorable and blonde. But Hansen is a seasoned volleyball player now. She’s overcome injuries to improve her serving, defense and attack at the net. Metro volleyball and deep runs with the Lady Cardinals have given her ample opportunity to work on her game. Now Hansen will be a senior leader for Head Coach Cheryl Jacobs’ squad. And with drive to help all, Hansen will be vital on and off the court in 2013.
This TRA Lady Rebel will be a shining star in volleyball. Her physical development has been amazing and her skill level improves every year in the game. A combination of natural ability and intelligence, Lopez will be vital to the success of Head Coach Wendy Porter’s squad in 2013. The Lady Rebel Volleyball team features so many returning pieces that are used to playing together. Lopez has a team-first approach that will only add to the cohesion.