Lady Wolves Building From Successful 2021 Season
Published 5:38 am Sunday, January 30, 2022
WESSON – Co-Lin Softball is coming off a 2021 season that saw the Lady Wolves come just one game shy of making a national tournament appearance and along with that success comes higher expectations. Head coach Meleah Howard and her staff, including returning assistant coaches Amber Beall and Drake Flowers, are optimistic and excited to see how their team handles the pressure of those expectations for the upcoming season.
“The expectations for our team are very high this year,” Howard stated. “We have a lot of new faces on the field, and I am curious to see how they handle the pressure once the season starts.”
The Lady Wolves are coming off a full fall schedule that was successful in preparing the team for the upcoming season. “We had a really good fall as a team,” Howard said. “But as I told our girls those games didn’t count and now it is time to see how we respond when the games matter.”
Email newsletter signup
The 2022 version of the Lady Wolves softball roster features 10 sophomores including nine returning players and one transfer along with 10 incoming freshmen. “We tell everyone that we are fun to watch,” Howard added. “We have four to five players that were in the lineup frequently for us last season, but the good thing for us is that the ones who are returning have a fire lit under them and motivation for this season because of how last season ended in the region tournament.”
In 2021, the Lady Wolves posted a team batting average of .336 with 61 doubles, seven triples, 49 homeruns, 242 RBIs, and 69 stolen bases. The 2022 Lady Wolves will a big chunk of that offense returning in the form of five of the top seven batting averages along with 37 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs, 116 RBI, and 49 stolen bases.
“The great thing is that we are returning some sophomore that received a lot of playing time last year,” Howard said. “Even our sophomores that did not get a lot of that time still got to play in some crucial innings for us including big moments where they had to step up for us. We definitely have some good kids that are going to do big things for us this season.”
Madi Miller, a sophomore catcher and outfielder from Brookhaven, led the Lady Wolves in at-bats with 146 and posted a .356 batting average. Miller also had four doubles, four triples, 19 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, and posted a .891 fielding percentage.
Madalyn Wilkinson, a sophomore outfielder/pitcher from Madison, posted a .358 batting average while leading the Lady Wolves in doubles with 12. Wilkinson also had five home runs, 30 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, and a .920 fielding percentage. Wilkinson earned Mississippi Association of Community College Conference Honorable Mention All-Conference honors for her performance.
Shelbi Maxwell, a sophomore outfielder from Wesson, posted a .351 average last season. Maxwell also had five doubles, two triples, one home run, 16 RBIs, and led the team with 12 stolen bases. Shelbi also had a .986 fielding percentage with just one error last season. Maxwell also earned Mississippi Association of Community College Conference Honorable Mention All-Conference honors for her performance.
Bela Dekovic, a sophomore utility player from Belle Chase, Louisiana, had a .259 batting average with six doubles, five home runs, 22 RBIs, and one stolen base. Dekovic also carried a .979 fielding percentage last season.
Malori Cade, a sophomore outfielder from Brookhaven, posted a .400 average with one double, one home run, seven RBI, and four stolen bases.
Cera Blanchard, a sophomore pitcher and first baseman from Metairie, Louisiana, posted a .367 batting average with eight doubles, one triple, three home runs, 20 RBI, and seven stolen bases. Blanchard also performed exceptionally well for the Lady Wolves in the circle last season accounting for a team leading 140.1 innings pitched across 24 appearances with 22 starts and pitched 16 complete games. Blanchard posted a 15-4 record with a 1.55 earned run average and had 138 strikeouts against 44 walks and carried 6.88 strikeout per seven innings pitched count throughout the season. The Southeastern Louisiana University commit earned several rewards for her play throughout the season including NJCAA Second Team All-American, Mississippi Association of Community College Conference (MACCC) First Team All-Conference and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-South Region Second Team, and NJCAA All-Region 23.
“Cera is the type of player that everyone wants on their team,” Howard stated. “She is a very good player, but she is humble, and she is a hard worker. She is a great teammate and all our girls love playing with her and even our opponents have nothing negative to say about her. I expect to see a different Cera this year though,” Howard added. “Last year she was a freshman and did not know what to expect, but this year she is motivated, and you can tell that her mindset has changed from last year to this year and I expect her to be dominant for us this year.”
“We have a great group of very strong freshman coming in and they want to win it all,” Howard added. “They are grinding day in and day out with our sophomores and I am very impressed with them and how they are following the example of our sophomores.”
The schedule for the pre-season ranked 10th Lady Wolves features matchups against four conference opponents that are ranked in the NJCAA Division II Preseason Poll including No. 2 Jones College, No. 5 Itawamba, No. 8 Gulf Coast, and No. 17 Pearl River, while also featuring a Top 10 matchup in non-conference play against 9th-ranked Parkland College (IL) early in the season on February 26.
“We tell the girls every year that no game is an easy game,” Howard stated. “When you have 15 teams in your conference every game that we play is an important one. We tell them that if you do not show up then you will get beat and you must bring your A game every day. “Our motto is that no matter who are we playing…our opponents may change, but we still play Co-Lin softball,” added Howard. “If we do that and take care and focus on ourselves then everything else will fall into place.”
The Lady Wolves open their season with a home contest against Baton Rouge Community College on Sunday, February 13. “I think with our great group of sophomores that are leading with a great group of freshmen following that example I think that our team will have a good shot at accomplishing our goals.”