Middlesex girls should challenge for district title
by Tom Chillemi
The Middlesex High varsity softball team has seven players returning from last year’s 17-3 team that was the first softball team in school history to advance to the State Group A Tournament.
Middlesex lost 5-4 to eventual state champion Gretna in last year’s state quarterfinals.
“Overall, we’re striving to improve on last year’s successful season,” said MHS head coach Wade Traynham.
The 2008 Lady Chargers finished second in the Tidewater District regular season standings to Mathews. However, they won the district tournament by defeating Mathews 2-0.
In the Region A tournament title game, the MHS girls lost 3-2 to Mathews in a 15-inning game.
This year’s Middlesex-Mathews rivalry figures to be just as heated.
Returning players include senior outfielder Whitney Walton, a four-year varsity player, who gives the team speed in the outfield and on offense.
Senior Danielle Montgomery is a third-year starter at first base. “I hope her All-Region A volleyball selection will add to her confidence in softball,” said Traynham.
Junior Maggie Hall returns to play in infield. “Her good outing in the state quarterfinals needs to continue for the team’s overall performance,” said Traynham.
Four sophomores return, including All-District players Amanda Brown, Chelsea Lewter and Raquel Pierce.
Amanda Brown is back at shortstop. “She adds speed on offense and defense,” said Traynham.
Chelsea Lewter returns to second base. “She is steady and dependable on offense and defense,” said Traynham.
Raquel Pierce moves to catcher. “Her team spirit, loud voice and strong arm will be counted on,” said Traynham.
Sophomore outfielder Ashley Williams “is a good power hitter,” said Traynham. “We’ll be looking for her to be more consistent at the plate.”
Moving up from junior varsity is Katherine Wood “who can play third base and catch and has good power at the plate,” said Traynham.
Sophomore Ashley Lane can pitch and play first base. “She is a welcome addition,” said Traynham.
Sophomore Olivia Wilder, who can play first base and outfield, has a strong arm and good power, and is looking for a chance to work into the lineup, said Traynham.
Freshman pitcher Meagan Payne moves up to varsity after leading the JVs to a 16-3 season in 2008. Payne will pitch and play third base or shortstop. “She has shortened her pitching delivery, and that will aide in her control and speed,” said Traynham.
New players include senior Kristen Andrews, who will add depth to the outfield, Traynham said.
Junior Susan Dunaway “is a good contact hitter and will help out in the outfield and at second base,” said Traynham. Dunaway ran track last year.
Freshman Heather Blankenship “runs like a rabbit on the bases and in the outfield,” said Traynham. “She has a good glove and has been a very pleasant surprise this season.”
Traynham, who starts his seventh year as head coach, is being assisted by volunteer coach Chuck Brown.
Rain postponed the Lady Chargers’ first three games. They will play a make-up game this Friday, March 20, at home against Rappahannock at 5 p.m.
Middlesex will host Northumberland on Tuesday, March 24, at 5 p.m.; and be at Rappahannock on Thursday, March 26, at 5 p.m.