Not shying away from the ball, and even taking some shots to the face, the Destin Marlin defense is shaping up to be the strength of the middle school girls softball team.



"We definitely have a strong defense. I think it's our strongest right now," said first-year Destin Coach Brittany Cahoon as she watched the girls on the practice field.



"They are looking really good. We struggle at times but we're getting there," she said.



Cahoon, who has coached travel ball clubs such as Sudden Impact and Special Ops, has never coached on the middle school level.



Cahoon played ball in college at Jefferson Davis Community College and Huntingdon College.



"I'm very excited to be here," she said. "I'm lucky to have a good group of girls, being a first-year coach. And the parents are amazing."



Some key players on defense for the Lady Marlins will be Gabby Nix, Jordan Malave, Nickie Cobble and Sam Houston to name a few.



"Gabby is really good. She's picking it up … coming in and being able to pitch for us and play the corners at third and first.



"Jordan is a seventh grader who has really stepped it up for us. She's playing shortstop and making good plays for us."



Cobble and Houston, both eighth graders, have "stepped it up," and are leading out on the team, Cahoon said.



As for the bats, “Our hitting is good. It's consistent and we still have time to work on it and get the kinks out.



"We just need to find where everybody falls in that one through nine … the whole mix of finding who goes where," Cahoon said.



Nevertheless, she said, "We have a great mix. We only have one seventh grader, a bunch of sixth graders and two fifth graders. But my young ones have the potential to give it all they've got."



The Lady Marlins will get their first test of the season at 4 p.m., April 7 at home when they host the Pryor Pirates.



ON THE TEAM



Eighth graders: Nickie Cobble, Delaney Decker, Sam Houston, Savannah Lozano, Gabby Nix, Madison Phillips and Caroline Porter.



Seventh graders: Jordan Malave.



Sixth graders: Livia Hughes, Madison Larumbe, Lindsey Mayo, Kayla Melton, Madalyn Phillips, Caitlyn Ream, Savannah Rockwell and Kasey Seeling.



Fifth graders: Bailey Phillips and Miranda Treadway.