SP Slowpitch

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

No. Name Pos. Grade 1 Darbi Smith IF 7th 3 Megan McGee IF  7th 4 Haley Reid OF 9th 6 Misty Jenkins OF 9th 11 Lee Todd Ware P/OF 7th 12 Chresha Brown OF  12th 13 Savanna Williams OF 12th      14 Sydney Morgan OF  8th 17 Chloe Morgan P/OF 7th No. Name Pos. Grade 18 Marla Rudd (injured) 12th 19 Caitlin Seay OF 8th 20 Caitlyn Cox IF  10th 22 Amanda Ivy IF 12th 24 Amanda Lamb OF 7th 25 Rebekah Garner C/OF 9th 32 Bethany Elmore C 11th 33 Morgan Aldison IF  9th

SP slowpitch fields very young squad

By Angie Ledbetter

The 2012 season begins today for the South Panola Lady Tiger’s slowpitch softball team but they will start with a lot of unknowns on the field.

After six seniors graduated, one starter out for the season with an injury and one opting out of playing, the team of 18 will be young with only two returning starters.

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As she starts her 22nd year career as head coach, Kim Wilson has never seen this before.

“In all those years, I can never remember having just two returning players from last year’s team to take the field when we start to play.”

August 1 was the official starting day for practice.

“Every team has a rebuilding year but we graduated six, our starting catcher decided not to play and one starter is out for the season with an injury. You put all that together and we’ll see only two returning starters on that field with Amanda Ivy Franks and Chresha Brown. That’s tough for any sport.”

With all the youth on the field Wilson said some have to play.

“You’ve got some eighth and ninth graders who are going to have to put on that uniform, walk out on that field with the likes of Tupelo, Grenada and whoever we play and have the same character and determination as those three seniors.”

Wilson knows the five seventh graders are scared.

“They look around and see what we’re dealing with. Normally with a situation with a team with some younger players they have somebody to look up to. But this year they’re going to have to be ready to step up and walk out on that field as if they’re the very seasoned to players.”

Wilson had several goals for the team during the two weeks of practice, most importantly the fundamental of fielding ground balls. The team also focused on throwing, catching and batting to get the timing down on the slowpitch ball.

No matter how young they are, Wilson expects them to play like seasoned players and not use that as an excuse for not producing.

“I want them to go out on the field, play the sport, and have fun but stick to the fundamentals,” she said.

The team was scheduled to play in the J. Z. George Tournament on August 11 but it was canceled due to J. Z. George cancelling its slowpitch program.

“They not only cancelled the tournament but the last game of the season for us,” she said. “The reason we go to that tournament every year is because it’s a classic and it gives us two games of basically practice. It doesn’t count because the season doesn’t officially start until the following Monday but I was counting on it to get the nerves out of the players.”

According to Wilson two weeks is not enough time to get seventh and eighth graders mentally ready to take the field in a South Panola uniform and face juniors and seniors from other teams.

“We will probably have a different lineup for the first five games if not for every game,” Wilson said. “When I realized how young we were going to be, I realized that we had an uphill battle to begin with but if we don’t get some early games in we’re going to have another strike against us.”

The Lady Tigers added Charleston to the schedule. District foes this year are Grenada, Columbus and Tupelo.

Helping with the team is Coach Ashleigh Hicks. The team is selling 32 ounce hard lined stadium plastic cups with a top and straw included with the SP logo for $5.