SP Slowpitch

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SP slowpitch led by 5 seniors

By Angie Ledbetter

The South Panola slowpitch softball team started practice during the hottest week of the summer last week but continued working for their upcoming six week season.

According to head Coach Kim Wilson, the players have been more than willing with all of the heat they’ve faced.

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 “They’ve been willing to do whatever all week. We’ve had to see which time was better for us to practice which included the mornings or afternoons.”

With one week of practice gone, Wilson said they still have a lot of work to do.

 “Every team in the state supposedly, if they played by the rules, started practice same time we did,” she said. “Everybody is going to be in the same boat where they have fastpitch players trying to blend in and mesh with slowpitch players.”

With five seniors leading the team Wilson is very excited and will be depending on them for leadership.
“I’m so excited about this group. They’re so mature for their age in their thoughts, their leadership and the way they tackle things. I know a lot of it comes from the fact that they’ve played together with me and with fastpitch for years now. ”

Seniors include Meri Morgan Fortune, Christa Brown, Crystal Contreras, Lauren and Lindsey Calvert.

“Fortune is very vocal and she has her way that she likes things done. Then I have Lauren and Lindsey Calvert who came on board this year. They’ve never played before but they’re true born leaders. They’re leaders in anything they do so slow pitch isn’t going to matter. All of them are meshing together really well.”

One senior Wilson looks up to is Brown.

“She is probably if not the best one of the top three athletes that I’ve ever coached in my 21 years at South Panola. She is just an all-around athlete. She’s a pitcher, an outfielder, can catch, run, throw or do anything and I’m tickled to have her because she makes no bones about it that she’s a basketball girl.”
Wilson will also be depending on Contreras.

“She’s a whole lot like Christa. They’re just natural athletes. Contreras is also a basketball player and she’s involved in lots of stuff at school.”

At the time of the interview, Wilson had not assigned positions but believed Brown and Contreras would be her first and third basemen.

“Seniors alone are going to make up three infield and two outfield positions. They’re a huge chunk of the squad,” she said.

For the first time in several years the team has multiple younger players, two eighth and three seventh graders.

“Misty Jenkins is the only junior high player that has played for me,” Wilson said. “I have Haley Reid and Sydney Morgan.”

Morgan is the sister to upper classmen Christa and Chresha Brown.

“She’s going to be something special,” Wilson said. “She’s a very good athlete but very young. I don’t know a whole lot about all of them because I’ve had them a week only but they’re going to have to step up because that counts for six of a roster of 17. Without them we’re basically looking at one substitute. Right now two of them have a very good opportunity to start from what I saw this past week in practice.”

The Lady Tigers will play in the J. Z. George tournament tomorrow.

“When it comes game time Saturday morning we’ll look at each other and ask who’s practiced the best at each position,” Wilson said. “I really don’t even know who’s going to be the pitcher right now. If we played today it’d be Christa but she’s such a good outfielder so we’re trying to work on another pitcher right now.”

On Tuesday the Lady Tigers will host Strayhorn in the home opener. Wilson is looking to find an opponent for August 18 and September 1 after Cleveland dropped slow pitch this year.

As far as the district competition, Wilson knows what she faces with Grenada, Tupelo and Columbus.

“Grenada and Tupelo are always going to be very competitive,” she said. “We played Columbus two years ago and they’re one of those up and down teams. The last two times we’ve made it to the playoffs we’ve had to face Tupelo. They’re always going to be solid.”

Wilson’s goal for the team is for them to learn to play together.  

“That’s going to take time and a lot of it depends on their part of staying after when they need some extra work,” she said. “I want them to be committed to what we’re doing. Also I want them to begin the season knowing they can be just as good as anybody they play and not have any preconceived notions about any team. Then there’s nothing they can’t accomplish.”