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Big SF picture looking bright

Big SF picture looking bright
Big SF picture looking bright

South Fulton’s Kacie Daugherty chases back a TCA runner during Friday’s play at the Class A State Tournament.
MURFREESBORO — From 1999-2002 South Fulton made four consecutive trips to the Class 1A state softball tournament.
The pieces appear to be in place for a similar run.
The 2010 version of the Devilettes, who made the program’s first trip to state play in six years — but the sixth in the 21-year history of the program — will not open next season with a bare cupboard.
In fact, SF’s shelves appear to be quite stocked.
Seven of the team’s starters in the field will return next season, most of those with at least two years worth of experience. Five were sophomores this season, with a junior and a freshman rounding out that list.
Catcher Paxton Sisson, a senior-to-be and the team’s unofficial captain, heads that group after hitting a team-best .400 for the season and being the only SF player to get a hit in every game in this year’s state tournament.
Battery mate Haley McKinney, who won 22 games this season after a 20-win freshman campaign a year ago, will undoubtedly be one of the top hurlers in the area as a junior next spring.
Both corner infielders, Marina Barclay at third and Macy Maxwell at first, should be solid runner producers at the plate in the middle of the Devilette lineup and improved defensively with more seasoning as sophomores this year. Maxwell hit over .350, while Barclay batted at a .280 clip and had several clutch RBI.
Top-of-the order batter Kaci Daugherty led the team with 45 hits while batting .333 and stealing 37 bases in as many attempts and will return for a third season as a leadoff hitter and infielder. Rightfielder Chelsie Pitts provided a good glove and filled her role as a No. 2 hitter with several good bunts after being moved up in the order late in the year. She hit .268 this season as a sophomore.
An expanded role for starting leftfielder Desiray Sturgeon is likely, after she played mostly just in the field and was employed as a courtesy runner this season.
Several other underclassmen also played key roles in South Fulton’s march to a third-place state tourney finish and will undoubtedly be bigger pieces of the puzzle next season.
At the top of that list is freshman pitcher Sara Reams, who went 10-5 in spot duty this season and shined in a five-inning relief stint in the state tourney.
“Even though we had some girls who had some experience, we were really young,” SF head coach Curt Lee said of his squad’s makeup. “We’ve had some youth before, but it was just in a position or two. We had five sophomores and a freshman to play really key roles either offensively or defensively.
“That obviously bodes well for the future, but only if they’ll continue to work in the offseason and try to get better.”
LEAVING A HOLE — Despite losing just three seniors off this year’s squad, those departures will be significant, according to Lee.
“You’ve got a centerfielder (Katie Bivens) who has started for five years and a three-year starter (Kayla Davidson) on the infield who was deemed good enough to sign a scholarship at Austin Peay. Add to that another girl (Morgan Maxwell) who is going to get a chance to play in college at Dyersburg State, and they will certainly leave a big void,” the SF coach said of his three just-graduated players.
Bivens’ speed in the outfield and often-acrobatic catches, will surely be missed. She was part of more than 130 wins during her high school playing career and hit nearly .300 this season with 25 RBI.
Davidson, a second baseman earlier in her career, was tops on the team in home runs, runs batted in and hit nearly .350 in her senior campaign.
The elder Maxwell sister filled mostly a designated hitter role, though she did see some time at first base with younger sibling Macy. She had a nice ending to her SF career with three hits in 10 state tourney at-bats.
THIS AND THAT — Lee provided the comic relief of SF’s state tourney stay Wednesday when he sprinted in a downpour to the team bus to provide a place for his girls to seek shelter, only to discover the vehicle locked and his keys left in the dugout. When pounding on the secured entrance didn’t allow access and he became increasingly frustrated and drenched, the team bus from Hendersonville-Beech offered him a spot there — only, though, after several seconds of laughing and watching his antics by the team’s players and coaches. … Stephanie Maxwell, mother of SF sisters Macy and Morgan, wasn’t about to miss watching her children play in the state tourney. Mrs. Maxwell had knee surgery on Monday, but managed her way to the event on Friday, watching the action from a wheelchair behind home plate. … Tournament champion TCA had a bit of local flavor on this year’s championship squad. Allie Carpenter, who scored the game-winning run in the Lady Lions championship victory and started in centerfield, is the daughter of former Obion Central basketball player Chris Carpenter. Chris was a starter on the Rebels’ state championship team in the mid-1980s, and is now an officer with the TBI. Proud grandparents are longtime Obion County educators Tommy and Mary Ann Carpenter.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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