Jan 23, 2019
Last week Encore Sports Medicine hosted the inaugural Junior College Area Media Day featuring coaches and players from the baseball/softball programs at Enterprise State Community College, Wallace Community College and Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.
Joining ESCC baseball coach Bubba Frichter was sophomore Grant Akridge, while sophomore Emily Cronk joined softball coach Traci Harrison.
Both Harrison and Frichter are entering their third seasons at the helm at ESCC and both share the same goals for the season.
“We wouldn’t be doing this job if we didn’t all want to achieve the ultimate goal, which is winning a national championship,” Frichter said. “All of us want to be playing in Grand Junction next year, so that goes without saying. If that’s not my ultimate goal I need to find another job.”
Harrison concurred with Frichter’s assessment.
“Our goal is to get to Utah and make it to the national championship,” Harrison said. “That’s everyone’s goal in JUCO softball. Every day we talk about making the top four in our conference, so we can make it back to Alabaster for the state tournament and then hopefully be in the top two to make it to Utah.”
Frichter returns eight sophomores from last season’s team with two additional sophomore transfers along with 19 incoming freshmen.
Sophomores include Enterprise natives Cole Smith and Parker Warren along with former all-state New Brockton pitcher Noah McDaniel and Elba’s Grant Akridge.
Another familiar face is transfer Clay Kelly, who was an all-state football player and baseball player at New Brockton before starting his college baseball career at Gulf Coast State College in Florida last season.
“I know chemistry is something that gets beat to death (in sports) but I think our chemistry has been great so far,” Frichter said. “The returning sophomore’s leadership has been phenomenal. It’s always interesting to watch kids develop from freshman to sophomore year.
“Most of these kids are used to playing 20 games in high school and then they get here and get to that point in the season with 25 more games to go, and the sophomores have to take over and lead.”
Akridge – a former all-state football player and baseball player at Elba High School – will be expected to be one of those leaders this season.
“The freshmen came in and we didn’t know anyone but we all clicked right away,” Akridge said. “The chemistry has been great and everyone is looking forward to the season and seeing what we can do.”
Akridge was ESCC’s leading batter last season with seven homeruns, 35 RBI, a .333 batting average and.576 slugging average.
The Boll Weevils return a solid pitching staff, which includes McDaniel and Ozark native Wells Deloney.
In his freshman season, Deloney struck out 63 batters with a 3.77 ERA in 59 2/3 innings pitched.
The Lady Boll Weevils, on the other hand, will be returning just a handful of players from last season’s team.
“We’re going into our third season here and we accomplished a lot of our goals last season, but we brought in almost a whole new team this year,” Harrison said. “We’re super excited about this team and on the first day of practice we laid it all out to the freshmen that they are what will make our program. We talk about it all the time. This group of freshmen will make our program in the long run.”
The Lady Boll Weevils return just six sophomores from last season’s team with 13 incoming freshmen and a sophomore transfer.
“We’re very confident in this team,” Harrison said. “We come to practice every day and they know my expectations and everyone is on board.”
Sophomore Emily Cronk – a former Enterprise High softball star – will be called on this season to help lead the younger players.
“This is my last season here at ESCC and I want to help get the best out of our girls,” Cronk said. “I want to be able to pull it out of all of them, so we can be the best that we can possible be. It’s our jobs to come out and bust our tails and get to where we need to go.”
The Boll Weevils begin the season on Feb. 8 against Andrews College from Ozark’s Eagle Stadium, while the Lady Boll Weevils will play in the NJCAA Lead Off Classic in Clearwater, Fla. on Jan. 25.