Lady Pats enjoy blast from the past in annual Alumni Game

Lady Pats enjoy blast from the past in annual Alumni Game

Last seasons’ Marion soft-ball team knocked off a group of Lady Patriot alums, which consisted of some of their mothers and current coaches m The motto of Marion High School athletics is “Once a Patriot, Always a Patriot” and that slogan couldn’t have been put into practice any better than with the Lady Patriots Alumni game held in Marion this past Monday, where current Lady Patriot softball players squared up against some of Marion’s top alumnus.

To Marion head coach Sean Gray, the annual alumni game reflects the Marion motto perfectly.

“I think that’s a perfect representation of it,” Gray said. “We talk to our girls about how, after you graduate from playing softball for us, you’re a part of our family and that family goes back a long time.

Even though you don’t play anymore, you’re always still with us and part of the Lady Patriots team. It was cool to see those girls come back and talk about how much they missed it and how much they love it and how Lady Patriots softball is still such a big part of their lives.”

The current Lady Patriots squad, including the seniors from last year’s 6A State Runner-Up team, defeated the former Marion players 7-3, but the final score wasn’t as important as the overall experience according to 2007 Marion High School graduate and former Lady Patriot Ashely Allensworth.

“We’re just out there to have fun,” Allensworth said. “So, no hard feelings or anything.”

Lady Patriots softball is certainly still a big part of Allensworth’s life as the alumna coaches many current Marion players on her Steal Elite softball college exposure team which will be playing two games at Marion Rose Park this weekend, one starting Saturday at 9 a.m. and the second beginning at noon.

“I enjoy being out there just to play, but I also enjoy getting to play with some of the girls that I train,” Allensworth said. “I got to hit off some of my pitchers that I train and some of my hitters that I train got to hit off me. My pitchers did good and my hitters did good hitting off me. It’s all fun, but it makes me proud at the same moment to get to play with some of them.

It’s just nice to go out there and have fun, getting to play with the younger girls, especially the ones that I get to work with in a private setting.”

For others like 2002 Marion High School alumna Whitney Skoff, Lady Patriots softball is still literally a part of her every day life as her daughter, incoming freshman Emma Skoff, just made the roster for next year’s Lady Patriots team.

At one point, Emma caught for the current Lady Patriots team as her mom stood in the batter’s box, where she went 2-for-2 on the evening.

“She was heckling me, that’s for sure,” Skoff said.

“I think she enjoyed it, getting to experience playing with me. Emma just started playing softball a few years ago. For me, playing softball my whole life and going to college on a scholarship, I’m a big softball person. So, I’m happy that she’s enjoying it as much as I did.”

While the former Marion High School and Dyersburg State Community College softball player remained in shape at the plate, she admits that her fielding was a bit rusty, something she says that Emma was happy to point out after the game.

“My fielding was a little lacking,” Skoff said. “So, she got to make fun of me a little bit after the game because of my errors.”

Another mother-daughter combo to take the field this pat Monday was the duo of Shannon Couples and Micah Couples, another incoming freshman at Marion who earned a spot on next season’s team.

For Coach Gray, seeing the Lady Patriots legacy in action is one of the most exciting factors of the annual alumni game.

“I think it impressed the young girls to see that their moms could actually play some softball back in the day,” Gray said. “It was pretty neat to see it come full circle like that.”

Overall, the alumni team consisted of former Lady Patriots players ranging as far back as the Marion 1998 graduating class to players from the 2016 Marion softball squad.

And although the game was mainly about having fun and reconnecting, Gray couldn’t help but enjoy a glimpse into next season with his trio of pitchers in Megan Adams, Kyndell Williams and Hartley Charlton took the hill against the former Lady Patriots.

“Our pitchers have looked very sharp and we kind of got to see how we’re going to look for next year,” Gary said.

The 2018 Marion Lady Patriots enjoyed a 17-9 overall record last season and finished the year with the Arkansas 6A State Runner-Up trophy, falling in the state championship game to the three-time consecutive state champion Sheridan Yellowjackets (30-3).

Photo submitted

By Collins Peeples