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Lady Hornets set for Jackson

PLANTERSVILLE — When the Dallas County softball team is healthy, the Lady Hornets have shown other teams that they are unstoppable.

Actually, they are pretty unstoppable anytime. They have lost in tournaments this year, however, when injuries have played key roles.

Their journey to Montgomery continues at 1 p.m. Friday when the Lady Hornets put a 25-3 record on the line against Jackson in the first round of the Class 4A South Regional at the Gulf Shores Complex.

Dallas County celebrated the Area 4 Class 4A championship Tuesday night after a coach-shortened 7-0 victory over Greensboro. The Lady Hornets only needed a little more than an inning for the decision before Greensboro’s coaches ended the game.

Dallas County also rejoiced at having a complete squad for the title run.

“We’ll finally get back to full strength,” said Dallas County assistant coach Gaylen Denson. “Our shortstop (senior Kim Ross) had injured her knee and was out for a week. She is one of our key seniors.”

The Lady Hornets have only three seniors. Ross, who signed with Wallace Community College Dothan, leads the team with a .622 batting average, collecting three home runs, one triple and six doubles.

The other seniors are left fielder McKinsey Crawford and centerfielder Keneasha Jefferson.

“We actually have our sights on getting to Montgomery,” Denson said. “I can’t tell you how much the seniors have helped with this team.”

Key underclassmen are on the mound. Sophomore Cassandra Daniels (19-3 with 188 strikeouts in 98 innings) and ninth-grader Whitney Denson (6-0 with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings) have given up only 25 runs in 28 games.

If every game lasted seven innings — highly unlikely, especially considering that Dallas County averaged just less than 10 runs per game — the team’s earned run average would be 1.12.

“Our defense has been strong, and our pitching has been great,” Dallas County coach Ed Miller said.

“We’ve had seven different girls in the starting lineup who have hit the ball over the fence for a home run.”

Next up is Jackson, which will try to use Dallas County’s pitching against the Lady Hornets, Miller said.

“They play what we like to call ‘choke and poke,’ ” he said.

“They’ll just stick the bat out and try to punch the ball between the infielders and the outfielders.”

Jackson has its own dominating player on the mound, said Miller.

“They’ve got a good pitcher, who is probably the best athlete on the team,” he said. “We clocked her at 53 or 54 mph with a rise ball.”

That’s pretty quick when a softball has to go only 40 feet before it gets to the plate.

“We should be OK,” Miller said. “We’ve clocked our pitchers at 60 mph or more.”