MGCCC Softball opens season Tuesday
Published 11:11 am Monday, January 30, 2023
PERKINSTON — David Kuhn sees an improved pitching staff on his second Mississippi Gulf Coast softball team, which starts the 2023 season Tuesday.
The Bulldogs will see all their action the first week in Louisiana, starting with a doubleheader at Baton Rouge. They play Friday and Saturday in the Mardi Gras Invitational in Youngsville, La.,
“I think we’ve got a very deep pitching staff,” he said. “We’ve got six quality kids we have a lot of confidence in. I’m hoping one or two emerge as a dominant No. 1.”
The Bulldogs have 13 games in Louisiana and Alabama on the schedule before they play their first game on the new artificial turf at Ross-Smith Field. Gulf Coast opens its home schedule Feb. 21 when Pensacola State visits. Home games will be streamed at https://mgcccbulldogs.com/watch.
Season passes are on sale at http://mgcccbulldogs.com/tickets. Reserved chairback seats cost $75, and general admission passes cost $50.
The Bulldogs have Abby Vance (So., Calhoun City/Calhoun City), Madisyn Cobbs (So., Oxford/Lafayette) and Kennedy Brown (So., Southaven/Northpoint Christian) back from last year’s pitching staff. Vance is one of three Bulldogs who played on the 2021 team that made a magical run to the national championship tournament. She and Brown are two of the four players who are using third seasons of college eligibility.
Jett Harrell (Fr., Clarksdale/Lee Academy), Taylor Styers (Fr., Oxford/Lafayette) and Kylie Burnette (Fr., Picayune/Picayune) are newcomers in the circle.
K.K. Agner (So., Horn Lake/Magnolia Heights) returns with 24 home runs and 86 RBI in her first two seasons at Gulf Coast. The two-time All-MACCC selection is sliding across the diamond to third base.
Laurel Ladner (So., Long Beach/Long Beach) or Halle Stafford (So., Glenmora, La./Glenmora) are competing for duty at shortstop, with Breanna Green (So., Saraland Ala./Saraland) at second base. Green, one of the 2021 team veterans, may also see time in the outfield. Vance will likely play at first base when she’s not pitching.
Kamryn LaFosse (Fr., Lake Charles, La./Sam Houston) and Natalie Shaw (Fr., Olive Branch/Marshall Academy) will split time behind the plate.
Kate Brannan (So., Enterprise/Enterprise) earned All-MACCC honors last year roaming center field, and she’ll be back there this year. Candidates in left field include Harrell, Kaydee Smith (So., D’Iberville/D’Iberville), Akira Causey (So., Meridian/Southeast Lauderdale) and Olivia Plummer (So., Gulfport/Gulfport). In right, Jorja Roberson (Fr., Branyan/East Union), Abi Williams (Fr., Columbia/Columbia Academy) and Plummer are in the mix.
“I’m hoping this month we can figure out our lineup and find our 12 or so players we’ll count on in conference,” Kuhn said. “That’s what January and February is for. I’m excited because I’ve never played a game in January before.”
Ross-Smith Field has a new playing surface. The team got on the FieldTurf TripleThreat Natural field earlier this month, and it’s already paying dividends. New assistant coaches Jack and April Byerley join Kuhn in enjoying those benefits.
“It’s tremendous,” Kuhn said. “We were just talking yesterday. With the rain over the weekend, it would have kept us off the field for three days. Now, once the sun pops out, we can get back out there. It’s tremendous for preparation.”
The MACCC will be as tough as ever, with No. 5 Jones, No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln and No. 8 Northwest Mississippi all in the top 10 of the NJCAA preseason poll. Northeast Mississippi also figures to be strong, and LSU Eunice is ranked ninth, another hurdle in the Region 23 Tournament field.
“There are no days off like there were 20 years ago,” Kuhn said. “You could look at your schedule and count wins. I don’t care if you were D-I, D-II or JUCO. Now, you look at a schedule and see you could lose to anybody. There’s no Tootsie Rolls anymore.”
For more information on MGCCC’s 11 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.