By Jim Hayes
Tied for second place in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association, the Volunteer State Community College Lady Pioneers softball team will host a four-game series with the Southwest Tennessee Community College Saluqis Friday and Saturday.
The Pioneers played a four-game series at Walters State Community College while the Saluqis hosted a four-game series with Columbia State College last weekend.
“They’re better than they usually are,” said Pioneer Coach Johnny Lynn of the Saluqis. “They look to be a fairly good team because they’ve got some players.”
Vol State is 7-3 in conference play, 13-6 overall and tied with Walters State in the conference standings. Southwest Tennessee is 5-7 in the conference and 21-8 for the season.
As of Thursday, the Saluqis had a team batting average of .340 and were scoring an average of 7.58 runs per game. The Pioneers were hitting .336 as a team and scoring 7.16 runs per game.
Freshman infielder Emilee Hanlon leads a trio of Pioneer hitters with a .500 batting average. Her 29 runs scored leads the team and her 26 stolen bases are the second highest on the team.
Sophomore outfielder Ma’Liya Stone leads the team in steals with 27 steals.
Madison Milton and Ciera Purvis are also hitting .500.
Providing the power for the Vol State attack are sophomore outfielders Hannah Marlar (.258, 2 HR’s, 4 doubles, 1 triple and 24 RBI) and Hanlon who has 15 RBI on the strength of 3 doubles and 2 triples.
While the teams are nearly even offensively, Vol State would appear to have an advantage on the mound. With a 6-1 record and a .069 ERA, sophomore Tara Cates is the undisputed ace of the Pioneer team. In her 9 appearances, she has allowed just 4 earned runs in 40.2 innings and walked just 13 batters.
Although she has a losing record at 2-3, Madalyn Edde has compiled a 3.00 ERA over the course of her 28 innings pitched.
Despite the impressive statistics, Lynn has some reservations about his charges. “Some days, we can do whatever we want to,” he said. “We are pretty talented. Some days we’ll go out there and look like the New York Yankees. Then the next day we might look like the Bad News Bears.”
“We have a lot of sophomores (14), and there is a time you have to do your job every day and not take days off,” Lynn said.