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Lady Bulldogs expecting big things on softball diamond

By Richard White

Greenwood High School softball coach Ronnie Sockey has lots of reasons to be upbeat and optimistic about the 2015 season just ahead. His 2014 Lady Bulldogs managed to win 22 games last spring and didn’t lose a single player to graduation. That kind of talent and experience bodes well for the future, both for immediate and long-term success.

“We have a lot of girls who have been starting for the varsity team for three years now, so we have plenty of experienced players back,” said the coach. The Lady Bulldogs reached the 6A quarterfinals last season for the second year in a row.

Seniors Sydnie Henson, Abbey Lejong, Madison Jewell, and Devyn Gregory are all three-year starters. Junior pitchers Kelsey Knox and Victoria Taylor give the team solid pitching depth. Also returning is Sydney Parker, a talented sophomore who earned all-state honors last year as a freshman.

According to Sockey, his blossoming program has enough players this year to theoretically field four teams, including freshmen, sophomore, junior varsity, and varsity squads. “There is a lot of talent at all positions this year, so we will be able to beat people a lot of different ways,” said the coach. “We have a lot of depth with a few younger players and a few freshmen that will push for some spots.”

The Lady Bulldogs open 7A/6A-Central conference play March 17 against Van Buren. Competing with Alma, Russellville and Siloam Springs for one of three playoff spots, Greenwood will play its first 6A opponent March 31 against Russellville.

In the meantime, despite weather related disruptions to the early part of their non-conference schedule, the Lady ‘Dogs found an opening in the bad weather to travel to Farmington last Saturday. Yet despite a three-RBI performance by Sydney Parker and six-plus innings from pitcher Victoria Taylor, Greenwood lost the game 5-4. Abbey Lejong also had two hits in the game for Greenwood

Taylor fanned four Farmington hitters, but was touched for 13 hits over 6 1/3 innings, giving up the winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Greenwood also committed two errors in the contest while Farmington was perfect defensively.

The home team scored twice in the third inning and led 2-0 until Greenwood broke through with three runs in the top of the sixth to take a brief 3-2 lead. Farmington then plated two runs in the bottom half of the frame to retake the lead at 4-3. After the Lady Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the seventh, the lady Cardinals pushed across the winning run in their last at bat.

The GHS girls were slated to play this past Wednesday afternoon in a makeup game at home against Booneville. They will also host Mena on Friday starting at 4:30 p.m., and take part in a one-day tournament at Ozark on Saturday.

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