From Injury to Triumph, Dunbar Wins Softball Player of the Year – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper
NATCHEZ – Lauren Dunbar suffered two ACL injuries to her knees in 2017 and 2020, which took her out of her freshman year. A strong player, she overcame those injuries and took to the field her senior season.
Shortstop Green Wave, who graduated on Friday, has been a key part of the team’s success. For the first time in Cathedral’s time in the MAIS, she helped them win a district title and go deep in the state tournament.
She is a laser-focused, competitive and driven player. Strictly commercial, she showed unbridled joy when the Green Wave won their district title. His smile shone on his face. It was her efforts as a veteran of the team and her involvement in the playoffs that earned her the title of All-Metro Softball Player of the Year 2022.
“It’s one of those things you work on. A friend of mine got it last year; it’s good to be up there,” Dunbar said. “We worked for five years until the big moment of this season. We clicked together to get a district championship.
The Cathedral team included experienced players like Dunbar, Cate Drane, Gracie Hargill as well as young players like Kinslee Young and Lilly Crum. The players got along well and it took them deep into the playoffs.
Dunbar has enjoyed watching the young players grow over the season as they mature. She said the ninth-grade team would likely win another district championship before graduating.
This season, she has remained injury-free and at the top of her game. Dunbar had a .481 batting average with 37 hits, 3 homers, 14 doubles, 40 RBIs and a .939 field percentage as a shortstop. She was selected to the MAIS District 3-5A All-District Team, in the MAIS All-Star Game, and a member of the MAIS All-State Team.
When she started playing travel softball, Kennard Williams pushed her to do her best. She said she wasn’t sure she would be where she is today without him. His primary motivation is to constantly improve.
“I just want to be the best I can be,” Dunbar said. “When things get tough, you have to overcome them and keep pushing. I could have given up after my knee injuries. You have to overcome it and not let it be the end. You have to go for it and keep pushing.”
At the end of the fall softball season, she was selected to play in the MAIS All-Star Game. Going into college, she knows she’ll likely see some familiar faces from the All-Star Game.
Her time at the cathedral ended on Friday as she graduated. She said she will miss teacher and head coach Craig Beesley, who was helpful on the field and in the classroom. The friends she saw for 15 years will miss her.
College softball is next on the horizon as she reports to practice in August at East Central Community College in Decatur. She said she’s already been added to the softball team’s group chat and plans to work on her hitting, alignment and throwing over the summer.
She said she will have to be physically ready. One of the girls on the East Central softball team told her she had to run for eight minutes when she arrived. It’s a bit of a daunting task for Dunbar who has only played softball and basketball.
During the summer, she will play softball with a travel team in Texas called Sneaky Cleats. Then it’s his first year.
“I feel like it will be a challenge. There will be new routines and you will have new workouts,” Dunbar said. “When you add school, I’ll prioritize things. I have to make sure I do my business, which I already do.