Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pitching Trio Keeps Softball Foes in Check

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pitching Trio Keeps Softball Foes in Check

Article excerpt

As the high school softball season gets into full swing, the prevailing notion around the area is that run production will be down because several quality pitchers return while most of the gifted hitters graduated.

Three aces stand out among the talented field: Clay's Cindy Hudgins, Parker's Stacey Bell and Episcopal's Lauren Morris. Each is entering her final season, is coming off a tremendous junior year and is the force behind their teams' state championship aspirations.

Hudgins, a University of North Florida signee, leads a talented Clay team. The Blue Devils advanced to the regional semifinals last year before falling to Pensacola Escambia 1-0. Hudgins went 24-6 with a 0.38 ERA and 220 strikeouts. Clay will rely on Hudgins, shortstop Christina Thompson and first basemen Desiree Jackson.

"She came to me as a freshman and as a pitcher just had complete raw talent," Clay coach Matt Lewis said. "Her control is tremendous; it's her best aspect. She also has an outstanding attitude and does things that make hitters look ridiculous."

While Hudgins leads the Blue Devils in Class 4A, Parker's Bell will be the catalyst for a possible championship run in Class 5A.

Bell is the area's reigning strikeout leader (287 last year and a 0.49 ERA). An FCCJ signee, she went 16-14-1 with poor run support. In the regional quarterfinals at fifth-ranked Gonzalez Tate High School Bell dominated and Parker won 3-2. Tate's runs were unearned. Parker fell to Gainesville Buchholz 3-1 in the regional semifinals.

"She started throwing harder as the game went on; that was her best game," Parker coach Janet Carpenter said. "She's a workhorse, she's pitched every game since her sophomore year and where she goes our team goes."

Parker lost two starters from last year and is hopeful the offense can generate enough runs for Bell. While Bell is the definitive leader of Parker, Morris, like Hudgins, is a star with a solid supporting cast. …

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