July 30, 2009 1:56:00 PM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
MACON -- One title isn''t enough for the Central Academy softball program.
In May, the Lady Vikings ended a drought when they defeated Kemper Academy to win the Class A Mississippi Private School Association slow-pitch state title.
The action will be a little quicker Friday when Central Academy and the rest of the state''s private schools kick off their fast-pitch softball seasons, but the Lady Vikings believe the momentum they built in the spring will carry over.
"It gives us a little more drive to be better than we are," senior first baseman Julianna Persons said.
Central Academy lost seniors Hannah Martin and Brittney Brown but returns the nucleus of the slow-pitch team. Many of those players also saw a lot of action and continued to mature last fast-pitch season.
Co-coaches Sammy Lindsey and Pres Dawkins believes Friday''s season opener at home against Wayne Academy will be the beginning to a promising season.
"The future looks good," Lindsey said. "We have a good shot to win districts, and we''re looking forward to an opportunity to win another state championship."
The Lady Vikings (19-5) defeated Kemper Academy 15-4 in five innings to win the Class A MPSA title. The championship was the school''s seventh slow-pitch title, and first since 2000-01.
The victory avenged a loss to Kemper Academy in the 2007 state title.
The Central Academy players took time off after the slow-pitch season to recharge, and now they''re ready to take on the challenge of winning the school''s first fast-pitch state crown.
Lindsey said winning a fast-pitch state title will be tougher because there is more competition and many of the teams have been playing the sport a lot longer than Central Academy.
But both coaches said their history with the girls -- they have coached many of them since elementary school -- and the potential of the players means the team could accomplish big things.
"We know what we expect out of them and they know what they expect out of us," Lindsey said. "We have stressed and strived for winning and learning how to play the game. Winning is what we plan to do every year. State championships are hard to win, but we have the talent here to get it done."
Lindsey said the confidence the team gained from winning the slow-pitch state title will help this season.
Dawkins said the leadership of seniors Alex Dawkins (pitcher/infielder/outfield), Lillian Lindsey (pitcher/infielder), Julianna Persons (first baseman), and Veronica Rodriguez (outfielder) will give the team an edge. He said the four-player class is one of the squad''s deepest in recent memory.
Alex Dawkins said the players have higher expectations for this season. She said everyone has been playing slow-pitch for so long that they can almost do it "with their eyes closed."
She also believes the Lady Vikings have improved in every facet of the game, which should help them make a title run.
"We''re ready for it and we know how it is going to happen and how we''re going to have to play to get to (the playoffs)," Dawkins said.
Lillian Lindsey said the expectations will be a source of motivation, not a burden.
"We worked hard last year and the year before that, and we''re growing every year," Lindsey said. "We''re older now, so I think we should do pretty good. I expect more out of everybody."
Sophomore Corey Dawkins will play catcher and shortstop. Freshman
Marion Colvin (pitcher/infielder/outfielder), eighth-grader Blake Rigdon (second base), junior Kendall Taylor (catcher/shortstop), Megan Banks (outfielder), junior Kellie Hailey (infielder/outfielder), and Sarah Norris (infielder/outfielder) also will compete for time on the varsity squad.
"For the seniors, we just have to set the example," Persons said. "As for playing, we just have to be one as a team. Everybody has their position and they have to be there to be a team. You need to play your position with your whole heart and give it everything for the sport (to help us be a better team)."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.