Lady Indians start strong under retooled lineup

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By Sean Arnold

“Are you impressed?”

Senior shortstop Erika Gilliam asked the question after her Chiefland softball team improved to 2-0 with a 10-0 win over Mayo-Lafayette.

For a program that’s coming off four state finals appearances and three state titles in four years, it wouldn’t normally be a noteworthy start. But the Lady Indians boast six new starters this season, and that’s not including Gilliam switching positions from third base.

Regardless, Chiefland impressed in all phases in their season-opening 8-3 win over Dixie County Feb. 13 and the subsequent victory against the Lady Hornets Feb. 15.

Gilliam paced the CMHS offense in the latter win, going 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored. Fellow returning starter Macie Thomas, a junior first baseman, ignited the club with a solo home run in the first inning.

The club went on to rally for seven runs in the third inning and collect 14 hits for the game.

“Everybody in some way, shape or form contributed,” first-year head coach Jimmy Anderson said. “We hit the ball really well. The overall effort was great, defense was good, pitching was outstanding.”

Junior ace Kensley Durrance was stellar in the circle in the two games, fanning a combined 26 batters and allowing two hits and no runs through 12 innings of work.

Thomas (home run, double), juniors Tristan Drummond (double) and Gabriel Stancil and seventh-grade second baseman Bria Hinkle (double) joined Gilliam with multi-hit nights against the Lady Hornets.

Thomas said she was struggling against slower pitching and worked with her dad on being patient in the batter’s box.

“To be honest, I was expecting (a pitch) outside, but it was an inside pitch,” Thomas said of her home run. “I’ve really been struggling lately (with the slower pitchers), so I’ve been working in staying back.

“We know the seniors are gone and we’ve got to continue the legacy – we’ve got to work a lot harder. It means a lot more when we have a win like this.”

Junior left-hander Simone White was 2 for 3 with a walk versus Dixie County.

Gilliam was 5 for 6 with three doubles in the opening week.

Karlie Meeks, who is one of four seniors on the roster, and who is taking over behind the dish for four-year starter Emily Hallman, finished the week with a pair of hits and a double.

“It’s Karlie Meeks’ first year catching, and she’s coming on strong,” Anderson said. “She’s caught two good games for us. I’m proud of her.

“We’re not really young, but we’re inexperienced,” Anderson added. “But we’re taking the coaching. They’re doing what we ask.”

Defensively, the club committed just one error in the week.

Chiefland, which was at Williston Tuesday, Feb. 20, is home against Gainesville-Buchholz Feb. 22, then goes to Bronson Feb. 23.