Depth, Balance Key in Thompson Softball’s Defense of State Title
Thompson softball’s defense of their 2022 state title has begun in earnest.
The Warriors’ amazing run through the Class 7A gauntlet shocked the state of Alabama, but those within the program knew about the juggernaut head coach Kevin Todd and his staff were building. Now, his club returns seven starters and promising, young talent throughout the lineup. They’ll need that, too, as the road to a repeat hasn’t gotten any easier.
When you add Vestavia Hills to a newly arranged Area 5, Thompson will be challenged each week as the season winds down.
“I don’t think it’s a stretch to call it the toughest area in the state, all four of us are ranked,” said Todd. “Hoover is as good as anybody, then you’ve got us, Vestavia is a strong program and I️ think T. County is going to shock a lot of people.”
Despite returning most of the roster, there’s no doubt the loss of seniors Eleanor DeBlock, Jenna Williams and Ella Pate will be felt beyond the field of play.
“We lost some good seniors, not just from the standpoint of a ballplayer, but leaders who have been with the program for four and or five years,” says Todd.
DeBlock and Pate both started as freshman, but Todd and his staff have a plan in their absence. Pate was a stalwart at second base, but Hannah Hobbs can move over to second base from third while Neely Davis has really impressed in the role. Laney Williams can also play the position if needed, so people looking for holes in the Warriors’ defense may be looking for some time.
“We have a great nucleus returning, my junior class is my biggest class ever and several of those have been with me since eighth grade,” said Todd.
One can’t help but feel optimistic about the Warriors with difference makers at every level of the lineup. Coach Todd feels his team can be a threat in every facet of the game.
“I️ think we’re pretty balanced, to be honest with you offensively we have the potential to be as good as I’ve had,” said Todd. “With our two on the mound they’re throwing as good as we’ve ever had. Then on defense we’ve got seven of the girls back that started last year.”
Senior Chalea Clemmons signed with Auburn University over the offseason and had to be shut down after battling an injury after last year, but has been back to 100% for several months now. Clemmons’ effort to get back on the field hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“She’s worked her tail off and very capable of having a great year,” says Todd.
The rest of Thompson’s pitching rotation is young, but more than capable with varsity experience to boot.
“I️ brought up Kadyn Bush last year as an eighth grader because I️ knew we’d be losing Elenor and she’s really stepped up,” says Todd. “She has the potential of probably being one of the best pitchers to come out of here when it’s all said and done.”
“We also brought another eighth grader this year, she’s our #1 JV pitcher right now, her name’s Autumn Ingall and she’s going to be very good,” said Todd. “She’s another little baby that throws hard, just needs to get used to some varsity hitters.”
Kayla Haney is another junior pitcher who offers a change of pace as a pitcher Coach Todd says the team will need down the road.
With Thompson being solid in the circle, the offense will once again harness one of the most powerful lineups in the state. The coaching staff feels on any given day seven to nine of their players can send the ball flying over the fence. However, it isn’t just the power, but the base hitting that the team executes with regularity returning several players that hit over .450 in 2022.
Juniors Dailynn Motes and Laney Williams were both brought up as seventh graders, started before they began their high school careers and now key this explosive roster. At times, it’s hard to believe they’re so close to moving on to the college ranks.
“Watching them grow up and improve has been crazy, talking with them the other day about how I’ve had them for five years,” said Todd. “Now they’re committed to Troy so they’ll play at the next level, great leaders for us who will do whatever it takes to win.”
Last year, Olivia Tindall impressed as a freshman and is already off to a great start this year as a key cog in Thompson’s engine. Additionally, her future is as bright as anyone on the team.
“She’s a special player and another that I️ really foresee being a D1 player,” says Todd. “She’s as good of an outfielder we’ve had, controls center field and she led us in batting average last year.”
Kendall Chanell, Allie Bauer and Hannah Hobbs are trusted veterans that round out the lineup and will be counted on to produce in big moments. Kadyn Bush is also a talented hitter occupying the five spot in the lineup behind Laney Williams.
The defending champs are ranked No. 1 in the state’s first top ten poll and with good reason: Thompson is deep and loaded up for another big postseason run.