Lady Billies softball honored with year-end sports banquet


The Monticello Lady Billies held their year end sports banquet on Monday, May 22, in a gathering of players, coaches, families, and the supporters of the 2023 Lady Billie Softball team.

To celebrate the season, a crawfish boil with grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, and the fixings was provided for everyone in attendance before heading up to the field for the presentation of awards and a follow-up kickball contest that was held after the awards presentation.

During the 2023 season, the Lady Billies would begin the season with a 12-0 overall record and an 5-0 8-4A Conference record. 

Of those 12 wins, the Lady Billies would shut out five opponents and would only allow one run in three contests. 

The Lady Billies would lose their first contest of the season on Tuesday, April 4, against the co-leader of the conference at that time with the Lady Billies, the Stuttgart Lady Ricebirds, in a 4-0 loss in extra innings that knocked the team into second place in the conference standings.

After the loss, the Lady Billies would put together an eight game win streak and would once again find themselves in a tie for the conference lead with Stuttgart who had lost to Star City for their only loss of the season, a team that the Lady Billies had defeated in both their contests on the season. 

With the eight game win streak, the Lady Billies would end their regular season with a conference showdown with Stuttgart, traveling to the home of the Lady Ricebirds in a winner takes all final game to determine the 8-4A Conference Championship.

In the game, the teams would begin just as they did the first time around with two shut innings for both teams, however, Monticello would be the team to get on the board in the top of the third inning after Stuttgart allowed two baserunners on errors and a single by Alaina Lyle that scored two runs to give Monticello a 2-0 lead.

Both teams would shut the other down for the next three innings before Monticello added a run in the top of the seventh inning on a pair of singles by Addi Frazer and Lyle.

Stuttgart added their only run in the bottom of the final inning with Monticello claiming the 2023 8-4A Conference Championship, their second in row after a share of the title a year before. 

With the regular season behind them, the Lady Billies set their sights on the 4A South Regional in DeQueen.

In the first round, the Lady Billies would face the Magnolia Lady Panthers, who finished their conference as the fourth seed.

Facing Magnolia, the Lady Panthers got the first run of the contest in the top of the first inning but Monticello would bounce back in the bottom of the first on a leadoff single and a two-run home run by Lyle for the 2-1 lead.

Magnolia tied the contest in the top of the third with Monticello retaking the lead in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Meygan Bivens and another run in the bottom of the fifth inning on the second home run of the day by Lyle. 

Magnolia added a run in the top of the sixth, but a big inning in the bottom of the sixth inning by the Lady Billies would would seal the contest after a three run home run by Addi Frazer, an RBI double by Audrey Howard, and an RBI fielder’s choice by Madeline Stanley to give the Lady Billies a 9-3 win and their first 4A State Tournament Championship appearance since the 2015 season. 

For her performance in the regional contest against Magnolia, Lyle would be voted as the Scorebook Live Arkansas Athlete of the Week for the week of May 1 through May 7.

Lyle would pitch the complete game victory with nine strikeouts, and two home home runs with three RBI in the contest and would earn 11,854 total votes to earn the honor. 

The Lady Billies would go on to finish fourth in the 4A South Regional and would be eliminated from 4A State Championship Tournament play in the first round against Farmington by a score of 10-0.

With the season ending loss the Lady Billies would finish the season 22-4 with a 8-4A Conference record of 11-1.

In the past two seasons under head coach BJ Jackson and his coaching staff the Lady Billies have won a stand alone conference title and a share of a conference title with two regional tournament appearances and one state tournament appearance with a two year overall record of 26-10 and a conference record of 21-5.

For the Lady Billies, 20 players earned scholar athlete awards along with players receiving several individual awards as well.

Freshman Kiley Lane was one of two players to receive the Big Bopper and New Comer award. Lane was tied for the lead in home runs on the season with six.

Two Defensive awards were presented to Ashlynn Snow and catcher Skylar Burns.

Kaylie Jester was awarded the Lady Billie Spirit Award with Madeline Stanley being awarded for being the Most Dedicated, and senior Meygan Bivens being named as Most Improved. 

The Lady Billies had five players named as 8-4A All-Conference players and two players named as 8-4A All-State. 

Anna Morgan ended her senior season as an All-Conference selection with Addi Frazer also earning All-Conference honors as well as the second recipient of the New Comer Award.

Senior Kate Morgan was an All-Conference selection as well as being awarded the Lady Billie Hustle Award.

Alaina Lyle was named as the recipient of the Big Bopper Offensive Award as well as being an All-Conference and All-State selection. Lyle hit six home runs and led the team in strikeouts with 140 strikeouts on the season. 

Audrey Howard was also named as an All-Conference and All-State selection. 

The Lady Billies were also the 2023 Smackover Tournament Champions and the 2023 Smackover Jamboree Champions. 

The 2023 season was accomplished by hard work from the coaching staff and players that started with not only working hard to improve in practice but in their efforts to also get the field in playing shape from maintaining the infield and outfield by picking up rocks and debris that may have accumulated on the field of play to help prevent injuries to not only themselves but their opponents as well to their time spent hitting in the turf room that improved the Lady Billie offense with the team scoring 220 total runs as opposed to just 153 total runs the year before on connecting on 24 home runs on the season.

Closing the awards banquet, Coach Jackson would end the evening with ensuring words to the returning Lady Billie players for next season. 

“The future of the Lady Billies is bright,” said Jackson in his closing statement.