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Young JV Lady Indians finish season 17-3

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By Sean Arnold

Chiefland junior varsity softball coach Chris Wilson is emulating the blueprint that garnered the Lady Indians three straight state championships and four finals appearances.

A talented collection of young players – mostly middle schoolers – have the future of the program looking bright, as their JV team finished 17-3 on the season.

“The group that won three titles, we’ve tried to copy them,” Wilson said. “They’ve been playing travel ball together since they were 9- and 10-years-old. That’s what (CMHS coach) Jimmy (Anderson) did with those other girls, he took them and played and played and played. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The young Lady Indians were led by a ferocious lineup of hitters who complemented solid pitching and defense. They even had to share a couple of their top pitchers – Kalie Osteen and Emma Wilson – with the middle school team.

Two of the three losses were by one run, and the team committed 11 errors in a loss to Branford and still had a chance to win at the end, with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and a couple of hard-hit outs to follow.

Wilson says team chemistry is a big part of the success.

“They get along great,” he said. “We haven’t had any drama all year, and that’s been great.”

Outside of freshman shortstop Kate Weeks, who, along with eighth-grader Nikki Fuller, has recently joined the varsity squad, the team’s entire infield were middle schoolers. Still, one of the program’s best players, Bria Hinkle, is a seventh-grader who played varsity all season.

Wilson knows three state titles is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment, but he expects this group to help Chiefland continue to be a club to reckon with in playoff softball.

“We’ve gotten a lot better, but we’ve still got a long way,” Wilson said. “We’re not going to win three state titles, we’re not going to be talented like that, but it’ll be to the point where if they keep playing, you’re going to have to come through Chiefland to get to the state championship.”

Osteen led the bats with a .500 batting average and a .690 on-base percentage, while Fuller (team-high 15 RBI) hit .462; sophomore Leah Warman batted .367; and Weeks hit for a .353 average. Ten Lady Indians boasted on-base percentages at .400 or better, including Ashari Bowers (.522); Wilson (.488); Grace Quincey (.471); Charly Corbett (.447); Jaquanda Latson (.442); and Leilani Cheevers (.400.). Haley Davis, who mostly played for the middle school team, was also among that group. Osteen had 14 RBI, while Wilson added 13. Cheyenne Powers was also a reliable bat for Chiefland.

In the circle, Wilson recorded 53 strikeouts en route to a 1.00 ERA, and Cheevers tossed 44 strikeouts for a 1.46 ERA.