HANCEVILLE – Wallace State Community College's softball team has dominated the Alabama Community College Conference during the past three seasons, winning three consecutive state titles.
And as conference play swings into full gear this week, the eighth-ranked Lady Lions are once again amped up for each opponent's best shot.
"Our girls are aware of challenge ahead," said Wallace State coach Jayne Clem, who collected her 500th career victory on Feb. 28. "We are excited about what we need to do. Even though we haven't played in more than a week, we've had some really good practices lately. We are prepared for a busy month."
Wallace State (29-5, 2-0 ACCC) begins a stretch of 24 games in 20 days Tuesday with a trip to Gadsden State. The Lady Lions follow the doubleheader with a visit to Bevill State-Sumiton on Thursday and host Calhoun and Northwest Shoals in double dips on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Wallace State's pitching staff has been its main strength during the opening months of the season.
Left-hander Kelsey Dennis, a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American, boasts a 14-0 record and 0.66 ERA in 15 appearances. She has struck out 129 batters in 88 2/3 innings and has eight complete games, including four shutouts.
Fellow sophomore Kristen Skinner is 7-4 with a 0.72 ERA in 12 starts, tossing four shutouts.
The freshmen tandem of Lauren Seibert and Cara Law has been equally effective.
Seibert (4-1) has a 0.66 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings, while Law is 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in nine outings.
"We have confidence in all four pitchers. They have been great," Clem said. "We don't have to throw the same pitcher twice against any team we play. That helps us in the conference tournament because we'll throw someone they haven't seen yet."
The success of Wallace State's pitching staff has helped an offense which is still trying to find its groove.
"We've been leaving too many runners on base. That's what we've been working on a lot," said Clem, whose team is averaging 4.3 runs per game. "We are 10 or 12 hitters deep who I don't mind putting anywhere in the field. We've got to find the right combination that can produce with runners on base."
Shortstop Saige Wright has been a consistent spark near the top of the lineup, hitting .377 with a homer, nine RBIs and team-highs 29 runs scored and 27 stolen bases.
NJCAA All-American Stephanie Needham has three homers and 16 RBIs, Haley Anderson is hitting .356 with two homers and 21 RBIs and Jessica Graves has a pair of homers, 13 RBIs and nine stolen bases.