Hunt aims to keep wins coming in Eupora

Staff Writer

Eupora’s rich softball tradition has transcended coaches and players over the years as excellence has become expected at the school.

Amir Hunt is looking to continue the great tradition built by coaches Trey Embry and Kaley Harris as he understands the level of expectations. Hunt will begin his first season as the Lady Eagles head coach as slow pitch season starts officially on Tuesday.

While responsibilities have increased over the course of the last few months, Hunt has hit the ground running with his first Eupora team.

“I’ve been as busy the last couple of months as I have my entire life, but it’s nothing that I didn’t expect,” Hunt said. “I helped coach Harris and she did a lot of good things here. I’m going to take a lot of things that she taught the girls and try to carry on.”

Harris left the school at the end of last season when the Lady Eagles had a losing season and failed to make the playoffs. That came just a year after the team had won the Class 2A slow pitch state championship.

This year’s team is one of the most experienced in the entire state in 2A as All-Area players Delta Claire Newman and Savannah Kilpatrick headline a veteran roster led by five seniors.

“We’ve got eight starters coming back with five seniors,” Hunt said. “They’ve been playing the game for as long as I’ve been here and they know how to play. We’re going to have to count on them and stay healthy because we don’t have as much depth.”

Along with Newman and Kilpatrick, Eupora boasts seniors Sidney Bailey Christiana Boren and  Annslie Steadman. They also have experience beneath those players with Alley Reed, Addison Mason, Haley McCrory, Haley Farley and Patience Bingham all being well-acquainted underclassmen.

What’s been the biggest help in Hunt’s transition, however, is his assistant coaches. Slow pitch season brings along baseball coach Clayton Dodd who has experience coaching the softball team and was the SDN Baseball Coach of the Year this past season.

Dodd will help with the team during slow pitch season and then will give way to Athletics Director and former Choctaw County football coach Adam Dillinger.

“It has become very evident that they are going to be able to help us out,” Hunt said. “(Dodd) has really been a huge boost as our hitting coach. He pulls the girls off to the side and works with them one-on-one. I’ve been very pleased with coach Dodd.

“Coach Dillinger is going to be a great asset as well. I’m going to be able to count on him in practice. He’ll be able to take the bull by the horns.”

The Lady Eagles have already gotten some work in before officially beginning their season. The team played a couple of scrimmage games against Nanih Waiya and Kosciusko last week but had their seven-team tournament rained out for this weekend as water drenched the fields.

That sets up an opening weekend (weather permitting) that could be a great treat for Eagle faithful everywhere. On Saturday, August 19, Hunt and the Lady Eagles will host Neshoba Central and Corinth in a homecoming weekend of sorts. Part of the festivities will be honoring the state championships brought to the school by Embry and Harris.

Embry won slow pitch state championships in 2005 and 2007 and three-straight fast pitch state titles from 2005-07. Harris brought the team a slow pitch title in 2015.

Following the ceremony which will include a brand new state championship sign in the outfield, Embry’s powerful Neshoba Central Lady Rockets will take on the Lady Eagles.

Eupora and Corinth will play at 12:30 on Saturday with the presentation of the state championship teams at 2 p.m. The Neshoba Central and Eupora game is set for 2:30 p.m.

“I want to make sure that they’ll always be a part of this program,” Hunt said. “Anything that we can do to recognize them, we will take advantage of that opportunity.”