If DeShuni Sanders is experiencing any lingering effects from a concussion, it didn”t show Monday afternoon.
The freshman center fielder was instrumental in helping the East Mississippi Community College softball team sweep a doubleheader from Coahoma Community College.
Sanders had five singles in seven at-bats, stole four bases, scored four runs and knocked in two runs in the two games as EMCC won the opener 8-0 and the nightcap 22-5.
She suffered the concussion when she ran into the wall while trying to make a catch against Mississippi Delta Community College on March 30.
“I feel well recovered,” Sanders said. “My trainer (Corey Lock) took it real slow. He didn”t let me do much. I”m back in it now.
“I didn”t really know what a concussion was. I really didn”t make a big deal out of it. I actually stayed in the game and played two more innings after that.”
The 5-foot-2 Sanders, who is a 2009 graduate of New Hope High School, has played a key role in leading EMCC to the top of the MACJC North Division standings with a 14-2 league record.
For the season, she is batting .364, stolen 17-of-18 bases and scored 29 runs.
Sanders has switched to the left side of the plate this season after being a right-handed hitter at New Hope and it”s been the right move for her.
Hitting from the left side of the plate enables Sanders to utilize her speed to get down the first base line.
“I like it,” Sanders said. “I like it better than batting on the right-hand side because you just can do more.
“At the beginning it was a little hard, but I played fastpitch on 12-and-under and 10-and-under tournament teams and they had me bat left-handed and so I knew the basics. It wasn”t that hard to get into it.”
Sanders is currently batting third in the lineup, but she”s also been the leadoff batter and hit second.
She is used exclusively as a slap hitter and drag bunter.
“She”s helped us a good bit,” EMCC coach Kate Neely said. “We use her in the top three. We always keep her pretty close to the top. We have her do a lot of drag bunts. She”s really been working on her hitting from the left side.
“She”s able to lay down a bunt for a hit the majority of the time. That”s a good way to get her on, plus just about every time she gets on she does score. With her speed she”s able to steal and get around. She”s pretty quick so we like to see her on base.”
Sanders doesn”t mind her role of slap hitting and drag bunting to move over the leadoff hitters and to try to leg out infield hits.
“In high school I never really slapped or dragged and I”m doing really well doing that now,” Sanders said. “That”s basically all I do. I don”t hit on the right-hand side any more. I”m basically all left-handed and I do that really well. I have my coaches to thank for that. If I don”t get on I at least move the runners so I feel I”m really helping the team out no matter what.”
The Lady Lions are just 16-25 overall, but they feel good about being at the top of the division standings.
EMCC has won eight-straight division games and hasn”t lost since being swept in a doubleheader by Itawamba Community College, which is in second place with a 13-3 league record.
The Lady Lions will get a rematch with Itawamba on Saturday in Fulton.
“Everybody asks me about our record and I just tell them to wait to the end of the year and it”s over,” Neely said. “The girls work hard. When they get down in a certain game they come back whether it”s hitting or pitching or catching and throwing. They get better each game at whatever they”re struggling with.”
Sanders feels good about the Lady Lions” chances of contending for a state championship based how they”ve played in the division.
“We”ve been winning all these games and so we”ve got enough confidence,” Sanders said. “The teams that we did lose to in the beginning of the season, we didn”t lose to them by that much and they”re not better than us. I don”t think anyone is better than us.”
Sanders intends to keep slap hitting and drag bunting to help the Lady Lions realize their goal of winning a state championship.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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