Fancher to take over Choctaw County softball program

Staff Writer

It’s been a busy past few months at Choctaw County High School and the news continues to flow into the summer.

A few weeks after the Lady Charger basketball team had to replace head coach Cory Guyton with assistant Mandy Jewell, the softball team is also promoting from within.

Lauren Fancher, who has assisted both the volleyball and softball teams at Choctaw County, has taken over as the head coach for the softball team following Lance Thomas this past season. Thomas stepped in for head coach Mike Brown, who had been with the team for several years.

“I’m super excited and I’m really thankful that our administration had enough faith in me to hand it over to me as coach,” Fancher said. “It’s not every day that a 25-year-old gets that opportunity.”

As an assistant under Brown for two seasons, Fancher helped lead the Lady Chargers to a 13-10 record and a second-round playoff berth in 2016. In 2017, Choctaw County went 17-8 and finished up in the third round of the Class 3A playoffs, just a couple of wins shy of the semifinals. She coached Starkville Daily All-Area pitcher MacKenzie Toombs in the circle, who would continue her career with Itawamba Community College.  

This year saw Fancher continue to help the Lady Chargers to new heights with Thomas as head coach. Choctaw County won the Class 3A, Region 3 championship and produced a perfect 8-0 record in those games. The Lady Chargers were eliminated by Kossuth in the first round of the playoffs ending their journey early.

Fancher said that she’s learned a little something different from each of the coaches the last three seasons that will help her in this new post.

“The biggest thing and most important is that every athlete is different and they all learn in a different way,” Fancher said. “Some girls pick things up automatically and some girls have to do it step-by-step. That’s been really interesting over the three years to figure that out.”

The new head coach played her high school softball at Kosciusko before moving on to Holmes Community College to play on the next level. The experience she has as a player and as an assistant is something that Choctaw County Athletics Director Ben Ashley believes is invaluable.

She also has the attention of the players with relationships already built over the years. It was an easy choice in Ashley’s eyes. 
“I’m really excited about her and her vision for our program,” Ashley said. “She has the opportunity to show us what she’s got in that position and I have no doubt that she’ll get the job done. She’s been an assistant coach and we are familiar with her and the kids are too so it was a good fit for us.”

The summer has been used for Fancher to cut her teeth as a head coach. The Lady Chargers have already been practicing weekly to get prepared for the new year and she’s incorporated much of what she did as a player into her coaching style.

For a young team, the most important thing to this point has been teaching the fundamentals of softball.

“The more you practice and the harder you practice, the easier things are in games," Fancher said. "I’ve really tried to drill that in with the girls this summer. We’ve broken down the fundamentals of the game and that’s what’s so important. The majority of our team is seventh and eighth graders so fundamentals are the key.”