Delta Charter junior Jaden Boydstun began batting left-handed when she was four years old because her grandmother, Carolyn Boydstun, wanted her to take advantage of her speed on the left side of the plate closest to first base.
But as that small girl kept growing up to her current 5-foot-7 frame, the speed became irrelevant.
“They wanted me to be a slap-hitter, but the taller I got the more I lost that speed.”
And that was actually a good thing for the Delta Charter softball team as Boydstun finished her junior season with a record-setting .548 batting average. She also posted a .654 on base percentage.
The previous best batting average at Delta Charter was .500 by Jania Burns.
“Hard work pays off,” Boydstun said.
That hard work included extra batting practice with her uncle, Craig Cowan, after team practices and during her rare spare time.
“I came into this year a lot more confident,” Boydstun said.
And she was also moved to the lead-off position.
“I like it because I’m a very patient hitter,” she said.
Boydstun only struck out two times this past season.
“I was seeing the ball a lot better,” she said. “I was able to put the ball in play even when I didn’t get a hit.”
Boydstun played shortstop and pitched for the Lady Storm.
“I think it helps my batting being a pitcher,” she said. “When I get a spin pitch I know where it’s going to go. I usually get a lot of screwballs.”
Boydstun finished the season with four home runs, two coming in one game against Harrisonburg when she went 4-for-4.
“Jaden did a great job at the plate for us,” said Delta Charter head coach Jeannie Beach. “Even when we didn’t have practice she was up here working on her game. She has earned everything she has gotten.”
Boydstun batted .324 two years ago as a freshman. Her sophomore season was cut short by COVID-19.
But Boydstun was able to salvage part of the year playing travel ball with a team out of Shreveport.
Boydstun is playing travel ball this summer with the Louisiana Bomb Squad.
“It’s fun because I’m playing with people I don’t know, there’s a lot less pressure, and I’m playing in the outfield, which helps my overall game even more.”
Boydstun played basketball as a freshman, but skipped this past season. She plans on playing basketball her senior year.
“I want to get all the experience I can out of my senior year,” she said.
Delta Charter beat Centerville 12-1 in the second round after getting a first-round bye.
“I really want us to get to Sulphur next year,” Boydstun said. “I really want to be part of that experience. I know it would be fun.”
The Lady Storm fell to eventual state champion LaSalle 17-0 in the second round
Boydstun said she is undecided about what she wants to do after she graduates from DCS.
“I know it will have to be in sports,” she said. “I have to have sports.”
And as for topping her record-setting season next year?
“I’m just trying to get better each year,” she said.
Monterey head softball coach Cary Shively knew his young team could handle the adversity of losing three starters to injuries during the season in two different ways.
“We lose some people and the kids have to decide at that point is it over with or do we rebound,” Shively said. “We also had to deal with some crazy weather, but they showed a lot of character and leadership in the way they responded. You have to give them some space which is hard for a coach. Sometimes.things aren’t going right why miss that ”
After losing shortstop Maddy Green to a knee injury for most of the season, and then having catcher Lacie Keith and first baseman Gracie Wiley collide with their faces chasing a foul ball on April 8, the Lady Wolves had to turn to even younger players.
“These kids just kept playing,”Shively said. “When somebody went down, somebody stepped up. The young kids had to step up and they did a good job.’’
The team responded in the playoffs, as the No. 21 Lady Wolves upset No. 12 Oak Hill 6-5 in the first round.
Monterey would lose to No. 5 Quitman in the second round.
The Lady Wolves got two players back by the playoffs.
“I could see it in their eyes,” Shively said of his team before the first-round playoff game. “Sometimes you can’t see it in their mindset, but I could see in their eyes and faces and heard one or two of them talking that we were going to win this game.”
And what a game it was.
The Lady Wolves pulled off a double play in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.
“That was a heckuva game,” Shively said. “And it had a great ending.”
The Lady Wolves started out the season 4-0-1. They were 7-1-1 in mid-March. Then came injuries and four straight losses.
“We started playing well and then had a few injuries,” Shively said.”But the girls showed a lot of character and leadership.”
Monterey finished 11-9, leading to Shively being named All-Parish Coach of the Year.
“I thought we had a really good year as young as we were,” Shively said. “And the face we didn’t get to play last year. And being a small school our kids play everything.”
Shively wasn’t surprised to see his young team step up.
“We’ve always had a commitment here to being good at whatever you are doing,” Shively said. “It’s easy to coach kids who want to be coached. I’ve enjoyed coaching the girls here. I don’t enjoy when it’s time for them to leave.”
Shively actually skipped coaching girls basketball this season to get a small break.
“I was ready to go by the time softball started, I’m not sure they were,” he said. “But it was fun for me.”Especially after missing last year.
“You don’t know how much you miss something until you can’t do it,” Shively said.
Shively hopes to end his coaching career on the softball diamond.
“Softball was the first head coaching job I ever had and I want to finish in softball at some point,” he said. “In the second year they started softball in the state when I was at Block I had the principal (Carvel White) ask me if I wanted to coach softball. I said sure. He said Ok, you have no money in your account and if you finish in the red we close the program down. And he was serious. I said OK. We had fund-raisers and actually made money that year.”
Joining Boydstun on the team from Delta Charter are sophomore infielder Sydney Burns, freshman catcher Sophie Cooper and senior outfielder Tiara Jefferson.
Burns finished with a .339 batting average and an on base percentage of .487.
Cooper batted .325 with a .402 on base percentage.
Jefferson hit .316 with a .441 on base percentage.
Named to the team from Monterey were junior infielder Allie Lipsey, sophomore pitcher Briana King, sophomore pitcher Hanna Hitt, and eighth-grader Macee Green.
Green finished with a .345 batting average.
Hitt finished the season at .334.
Lipsey led the Lady Wolves with a .426 batting average.
King batted .328.
Madison Green was batting .550 before she injured her knee, only getting 30 at-bats.
Named to the team from Vidalia are pitcher Allie LeBlanc, catcher Kiersten Grove, infield Abby Fielder and senior outfielder Cayley Weatherly.
LeBlanc pitched most of Vidalia’s games and hit .453.
Grove finished with a .383 batting average.
Fielder batted .275.
Weatherly batted .257 and had several key plays from the outfield.