July 1, 2009
Danny P Smith -
Hebron Christian softball coach Cass Tapley believes he has a good team that''s getting better.
The high school summer league that was held at the Starkville Sportsplex has helped that along.
For a program that has only been in existence for six years, the Lady Eagles have fastly become competitive.
Tapley, who became the coach at Hebron last year, thinks his squad can be better than in 2008 when it was 13-7 and won the district championship with a 9-1 mark.
The Lady Eagles lost two key seniors from last season and there are no seniors this year, but Tapley has witnessed improvement in the summer.
"Physically, we''re better, but once you lose your senior leadership that hurts you more than you think," Tapley said. "We''re not quite where I thought we''d be yet, but we will be. All you have to do is play and they''ll show up."
The reason why Tapley has hope is his infield and pitching staff return in tact and 90 percent of the hitting returns from last season.
Hebron first baseman and pitcher Magen Tapley, the daughter of the coach, said winning last season was fun and wants it to continue. She said it''s up to the Lady Eagles to keep improving.
"When someone doesn''t play well, then nobody wins," Magen said. "It was fun (making the playoffs). It wasn''t fun the previous year because we didn''t win anything."
Magen doesn''t particularly like the hot weather that comes with the summer, but knows it will be worth it if it gets Hebron where it needs to be.
Coach Tapley was thankful for the summer league provided by the Starkville Park and Recreation Department because some of his girls wouldn''t have gotten any experience otherwise.
"Anytime you play it''s going to help," Tapley said. "Some play competitive ball and some don''t. For those who don''t play competitive ball on the weekends, it really helps because it gives them some decent competition to play against."
Even with the league, Tapley didn''t get a good feel for what his entire team will look like this fall because players were gone at various times due to camps, vacations and other commitments.
Tapley said sometimes that situation hampers a smaller school.
"When some of your players go on vacation, you don''t have a huge team," Tapley said. "In the fall, we''ll probably have 20 girls out. In the summer, we can get by with about 12. We''re getting there."
As the summer has progressed, Tapley looked for the hitting to become more consistent and that the batters were taking too many called third strikes. He wants the fielding to improve from a mental and physical standpoint and remains confident that it will.
Tapley likes the energy of his squad and said that Catherin Moore and Hillary Arnold were beginning to show some leadership.