Franklin Parish Lady Patriot softball team will field a younger team than last year’s squad which made the playoffs.

Eight freshmen, three sophomores, five juniors and two seniors make up the 2020 softball group.

“I feel like we have a good group of girls,” said head coach Kayla Shirley. “They have good attitudes and a love for the game. I feel like it is going to be a good season.”

Even with their youth, the Lady Patriots kept a nucleus of play makers who were partly responsible for propelling their team to the post season.

Senior Kiara “Turtle” Clark and sophomores Carson King, Alyssa Nealy and Maggie Parker are returning this season giving the Lady Patriots experience that may result in another playoff run.

Clark will return to captain the outfield in her final high school softball tour. Clark was an integral part in the Patriot’s offense and defense last season.

King will see duties at short stop, Nealy second while Parker will spend some time on the mound.

The second Lady Patriot senior, Belle Beard, played at Shiner, Texas last season. Beard, who played for FP in her freshman and sophomore years, will see outfield duties.

Along with seniors and sophomores, junior Carlie Bankston will captain the infield behind home plate.

With last year’s graduation of star pitcher, Katelyn Thrasher, the Lady Patriots mound duties are not quite as solid, but Shirley has several players who should step up.

Along with Parker, junior Abbie Williams and freshmen Courtlynn Havard and Tayler Southern will spend time on the mound.

The infield will rotate with the pitchers, Shirley said.

During last season, Lady Patriot offense carried several big bats, capable of hitting home runs almost at will. With Gracie King’s graduation last year, the big bats have slightly shrunk but have not disappeared.

“We are going to be scrappy,” Shirley said. “We’re not going to be overpowering, but we are going to be in the game. We have some good speed.”

Clark and Williams, who both have power, will need to step into offensive leadership roles this season for the Lady Patriots.

FP will face Neville and Bastrop in district play. Last year’s district opponent, West Ouachita, moved into Class 5A division.

“We matchup up good with (Neville and Bastrop),” Shirley said.

The Lady Patriots will face Ouachita to start their season and then participate in the annual Polar Bear Tournament where they will face West Monroe and West Ouachita.

“These games will be a good test for us,” Shirley said.

First home game is scheduled Feb. 27 against Vidalia beginning at 5 p.m. March 3 is the next Lady Patriot home game against Monterey. This contest begins at 4:30 p.m.

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