2022 Spring Preview: Diamond Softball

By Pat Dailey (For OzarkSportsZone.com)

Lexy Bridges took a tour of Diamond’s defense from the infield to the outfield over the first three years of her Lady Wildcats career. A Class 2 All-State First-Team selection last year, she’s due to begin her senior season where she ended as a junior.

At least that’s the plan for now.

“Lexy has played a different position every year because she’s that kid,” Diamond coach Kelsey Parrish said. “She just wants to play where the team needs her the most and will give 110 percent to fulfilling it. Lexy started at shortstop last year, but stepped up to fill a first base role I was struggling to find. She excelled there and I believe that’s probably where you will find her again. But don’t totally count on that.”

Bridges is one of two all-staters and six starters overall back from Diamond’s 20-4 Final Four team of last season.

“I’m a very lucky coach to have six (starters) back,” Parrish said.

Bridges batted .500 with three home runs and 21 RBIs last season.

Senior pitcher Madi Bentley also earned First-Team All-State honors a year ago. She batted .500. In the center circle, the right-handed throwing Bentley posted a 15-1 W-L record with a 1.78 ERA. She struck out 207 and walked 28 in 110 innings.

“We are blessed to have her back in the circle one more season,” Parrish said. “I am so proud of Madi and how hard she’s worked.”

Parrish added she expects Bentley will be as hungry to succeed as ever.

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“I believe Madi will come into the season fighting to break even more barriers,” Parrish said. “She has a sophomore and freshman behind her that are just as hard workers pushing her and she’s motivated to break more school records.”

Diamond’s other returning starters are juniors Emilee Shallenburger and Piper Brewer and sophomores Grace Frazier and Caitlyn Suhrie. Shallenburger and Brewer are infielders, Suhrie an outfielder and Frazier a catcher.

Last year, Suhrie turned in a .385 batting average with 24 runs scored and 13 RBIs Brewer batted .333 with one homer and 14 RBIs, Frazier hit .303 and Shallenburger had a .316 on-base percentage.

Diamond averaged 6.5 run a game last season, but Parrish notes the Lady Wildcats’ bats were quiet late in the post-season. They totaled just three runs over their final three games and were shut out 2-0 by Potosi in the teams’ Class 2 State semifinal matchup.

“We know offense was our weakest link at State last year, so that’s a huge focus this year,” Parrish said. “We will spend more time in the cages. I’m not taking away from my girls. I believe in every single returner in our lineup, which is a coach’s dream. Not every season do you have a lineup that you’re confident in 1-9.”

Parrish would love to see Diamond make another run at a State berth.

“I’m still living on the high that my girls worked so hard and made it (last season),” Parrish said. “Returning to the Final Four is our goal. But there are good teams we will have to beat to get there. We are going to focus on our weaknesses, play a tougher schedule and hopefully come back better.

“I know my girls were happy to get (to State), but they were not satisfied with finishing fourth once we got there,” she added. “We will use that to fuel the fire and work harder to be back.”

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