The Russellville Lady Panther Softball program is coming off one of its most successful seasons in school history. The interest in softball is at an all-time high for Russellville students.
The Russellville Lady Panthers were unable to field a middle school team two years ago. A lot has changed over the past two years. Last year Russellville Middle School head coach Ryan Davenport had 19 girls try out for the middle school team. The Lady Panthers were very young and inexperienced but made lots of improvement and progress throughout the season earning four wins.
The excitement has carried over to this year. This year Coach Davenport had 30 girls try out for the middle school Lady Panthers. In two years, they have gone from not having enough girls to field a team, to having 30 girls try out.
Calvin Head was recently appointed the new head coach of the high school Lady Panther softball team. When asked about the direction of the softball program, coach Head said, “I am very excited about the energy that is surrounding the Lady Panther Softball program from top to bottom. We currently have girls who are eager to get out on the diamond and play softball. This is a huge step for us as a small school district that has to share athletes like we do. As the newly appointed head coach for the RHS Softball team, I am very excited about the direction we are headed and the future of our program.”
Over the last year, Russellville also had 14 players playing competitive travel softball. Four years ago Russellville had no players playing on travel teams. Travel teams play year round, some playing as many as 80 games a year. “Having 14 players, playing year round is really big for our program”, says Coach Ryan Davenport. Coach Davenport currently has nine middle school players on travel teams.
Future Lady Panther Chloe Penrod, a second grader at Stevenson Elementary School participated in the 6U World Series in Cleveland Tennessee. Chloe plays second base for the 6U Kentucky Beast. Chloe’s Beast team won first place in the ISA World Series. The Beast have won 55 games over the last year and finished first place in 10 tournaments. They are the ASA fall state champions, Tri State ISA state champions, and ISA World Series champions. Beast Coach Matt Ogden says, “Chloe is an exceptional child on and off the field. On the field she carries that maturity and discipline with her. Chloe plays second base and is always one play ahead of our opposition and sometimes her own coach. I couldn’t ask for a better all-around player on this team.”
Crystalin Higgins, Madison Penrod, and Kayelynn Davenport play for Chris Penrod’s 8U Lady Sluggers. The 8U Lady Sluggers recently played in the ISA World Series in Cleveland Tennessee. Several girls from the Lady Sluggers competed in the World Series skills competition. Crystalin Higgins finished first in base running/speed and third in accuracy throw. During the World Series, Higgins had a .523 batting average and scored 5 runs for the Lady Sluggers. Penrod had a batting average of .625 and scored 10 runs. Davenport batted for an average of .538 and scored five runs for the Sluggers. The Sluggers have also finished second place in three tournaments this summer.
Three players from the high school Lady Panther Softball team are currently on Coach Calvin Head’s 16U Lady Slugger’s team. The 16U Lady sluggers recently attended the ASA World Series in Columbus Ohio, winning three games. Four Russellville Lady Panthers Cierra Collins, Tiffany Gray, Tara Gilbert, and Taryn Gray, played in the World Series for Coach Head’s team. Collins played short stop and third base, Gilbert pitched and played outfield, and Tiffany Gray played catcher. Russellville Panther Tara Gilbert was 2-0 when taking the mound for the Lady Sluggers. Gilbert also belted a three-run homer in one of the wins. The 16U Lady sluggers placed second in two tournament this summer and are currently ranked third in the state of Kentucky. Taryn Gray also plays for the 14U Lady Sluggers; she pitches and plays outfield for the 14U Lady Sluggers.
Amiya Collier and Jayla Kees are fifth graders on the Russellville Middle School Team. Both Collier and Kees started for the RMS Lady Panthers last season as fourth graders. They are also members of Gary Getting’s 10U Lady Slugger team. Amiya and Jayla recently played in the Kentucky state tournament. Both players had a good showing in the tournament. Amiya played short stop and pitcher for the Lady Sluggers and Jaylah played outfield. The Lady Sluggers finished first in one tournament this year, second in three tournaments, and third in two.
Lady Panther Brooklynn Ray plays for the 14U Ace’s. Brooklynn started for the High School Lady Panthers last year as an eighth grader.
Brinley Mason a fifth grader on the Russellville Middle School team and played outfield and third base this year for the 10U Kentucky Static team. Brinley started several games last year for the RMS Lady Panthers as a fourth grader.
Addie Mosier, a sixth grader on the Russellville Middle School team , plays first base and pitcher for the 12U Lady Shockers. Last season, she was the starting pitching in three of the RMS Lady Panther wins as a fifth grader.
Gracie Belew is a fifth grader on the Russellville Middle School team and played second base and left field for the 10U Lady Cats. The Lady Cats finished second place in two tournaments this summer.