MSHSAA announced on Monday, Mar. 16 that they would not be cancelling spring sports due to the Coronavirus. There will be delays to the start of the season and you can read the full MSHSAA release on spring sports by clicking here. Many area schools have called off classes and extracurricular activities through at least Apr. 3 and will reassess at that time. We will continue to post our spring previews. Please note that this preview was written before delays for the spring season were announced.
By Tyler Thompson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Hollister Lady Tigers softball team is hungry.
The team authored a 13-7 record last spring en route to an appearance in the Class 1 District 9 championship.
The Tigers fell 6-1 to the Lady Panthers of Forsyth — but a solid, experienced core returning to the field this spring is giving cautious optimism to the Lady Tigers and their head coach, Willy Morgan — who enters his seventh season at the helm.
The team graduated six players off last year’s team, with four of those being starters.
Eight lettermen return, including 2019 all-region hurler, Kendrick Bailey, who went 11-6 last season.
“She is a junior this year, so I expect her to be a little better this year,” said Morgan.
“Pretty much the left side of our infield will have to be replaced, but we have really good young talent. Three of my freshmen last year were all-district and really played well.”
The opposition differs a bit this season, with the team playing in the Harrison Tournament.
The Lady Tigers play Batesville (Ark.) Southside at 6 p.m. March 27.
“Our schedule changes a little bit this year. We picked up Catholic and Ash Grove,” said Morgan. “I have about the same hopes this year, that we can match what we did last year or even better, with the loss of our seniors.”
The loss of Maddy Frenzel and Ella Hymes are huge holes, as the two are currently playing collegiately at NorthArk and Evangel, respectively.
Conference-wise, in the Big 8 East, the Tigers will face Mount Vernon and Catholic, but the landscape may be a bit different next season.
Said Morgan: “I think there are going to be more schools — maybe next year — East Newton and some others, maybe [playing spring ball].”
The core of the 2020 Lady Tigers reside in the middle of the pack — the sophomore and junior classes — which comprise 80-percent of the roster.
“We have one senior, Drew Henderson. She is a good leader and a great kid, but then the other bulk of it is going to come from our juniors and sophomores. Just girls who love softball, and a lot of them are basketball players as well and will come in pretty good shape,” Morgan said.
Bailey and the Pyatt twins (Jackie and Mady) look to balance out the attack.
Last season, Mady was named 1st Team All-District (catcher), and Jackie led the team in home runs (3) as a first baseman and reserve pitcher.
“The Pyatt twins are a huge part of our success,” added Morgan. “They are just sophomores.”
Also back is sophomore Shy Frenzel, who was named the team’s defensive MVP last year as a freshman.
“She made all-district as well,” Morgan said of Frenzel. “She plays everywhere.”
Catcher (Mady) Pyatt and her junior hurler, Bailey, continue to evolve: on and off the diamond.
Another facet the team looks to take advantage of this season.
“They spend a lot of time together — basketball and summer ball — so they are together a ton,” Morgan said. “Mady has really gotten better, and [Bailey] is going to be [Bailey]. I really see good things coming out of those two.”
Henderson is the lone senior this year, with 12 sophomores and juniors taking the bulk of the reps.
Up close with the Tigers: 2019 statistics
Kendrick “Bug” Bailey: 11-6 record, 115 Ks, 41 walks, and a 3.15 ERA.
1st Team All-District, 2nd Team All-Region
Jackie Pyatt: .277 avg., 15 RBI, 3 HR.
2nd Team All-District
Mady Pyatt: .327 avg., 11 RBI, 5 put outs as catcher, 2 doubles, 1 HR.
1st Team All-District
Shy Frenzel: .300 avg.; “played everywhere defensively and led our team in fielding percentage, and also won the team defensive MVP” — head coach Willy Morgan.
2nd Team All-District.