By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Year One introduced Whitney Horton to Millington and her Lady Trojan program.
Last year Horton and the Lady Trojans announced their arrival in District 15-2A. Now entering the third year of the Horton Era, the Millington Lady Trojans are preparing to take one of those top two spots in league by the end of May.
“I’m hoping our bats will stick around for the entire year,” Horton said. “I just feel like as the season goes along, our defense will come as we’re able to get out on the field more and more.”
The preseason has been hours of work inside a building behind the Millington Kroger. When the sun was out over the new-look Lady Trojans Softball Field, Millington players have been putting in the reps preparing for the 2018 campaign.
“I’ve got six seniors this year that I have the ultimate confidence in this year,” Horton said. “And I have junior Hannah Clifton who plays like a senior. You’re going to have Paige Hall at shortstop. Seeing action next to Hall some this season at second will be fellow senior Emily Dickens. She will take some hacks at the plate too. Hannah will be at third or catching. TZ House at first and Ballard will be pitching or playing season.
“Kaylee “K” Bone will be pitching and Keyanna Jones will be my centerfielder,” she continued. “So I’m looking for two freshmen to fulfill rightfield and leftfield this year. Only time will tell who will be in those two spots once the season comes.”
The Lady Trojan everyday lineup will be loaded with experience and athleticism. Players like House, Clifton, Ballard and Hall were members of Horton’s Sub-State Volleyball team this past fall. Jones was a starter for Millington in soccer and basketball.
Meanwhile Bone was working on her pitching preparing to be one of Horton’s go-to aces.
“I have three or four pitchers this year,” the Skipper said. “The most I’ve had since I’ve been here, going on my third year. I’ve only had two pitchers in the past. So having four is a great deal.
“I will have Kaylee Bone who has improved tremendously over the offseason with the weight lifting and her speed has gotten quicker,” Horton added. “I will have Olivia Ballard, she’s one of those pitchers who can catch you off your toes. And I have three freshmen Rachel Ballard, Ann Howard and Katelyn McDonald will be in the mix.”
Getting productive bats in the mix is a priority of Horton as well. Replacing Marquisha Sanders, now at CBU, at the top of the lineup was her first task.
“You’ve always want to start off with somebody who can lay a bunt down or who is quick,” she noted. “So that will probably be Keyanna. Then as your second batter you want somebody you can rely on if that leadoff person gets on. That can move her and hit the ball at the same time. I’m not sure on No. 2 just yet but I do know my No. 3, 4 and 5 will be between Paige Hall, TZ House and Hannah Clifton.”
As Millington’s lineup takes shape, District 15-2A has a new look as well with Liberty and Jackson North Side out of the league. Now Covington, Haywood, Ripley and Millington welcome the arrivals of Bolivar Central and Fayette-Ware.
“It’s always going to be between Covington and Ripley,” Horton said. “They’re two of the hottest teams in our league. I’m hoping this year we’ll be able to play with them. My main thing is consistency. You’ve got to stay consistent when we go out and play.
“I always tell them, you practice how you play,” she concluded. “If you’re not practicing the way I want you to, I’m going to let you know and you’re going to fix it or somebody else will get out there and do the job I’m asking you to do.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.