September 24, 2009 11:08:00 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- The softball field at Starkville Academy has been a second home for Lyndsey Haynes.
Ever since she arrived at the school as a seventh-grader, Haynes has been a fixture in the circle.
The right-hander has pitched for experienced and inexperienced teams and with and without a brace on her knee.
Through it all, Haynes and her teammates have recorded plenty of victories and even more fond memories.
The Lady Volunteers had a chance to do both Wednesday afternoon.
Haynes pitched a complete-game four-hitter to lead Starkville Academy beat Heritage Academy 2-0.
"I am very proud of the girls for winning 20 games this year," said Starkville Academy coach Randy Haynes, who is Lyndsey''s father. "This group has played above our expectations. We got them to make some individual and team goals at the beginning of the season, and everyone has surpassed all of their goals. For a regular season it has just been great."
The victory helped Starkville Academy improve to 20-6. It also helped the Lady Volunteers secure a higher seed than the Lady Patriots for the Class AAA North Half State tournament on Saturday at the Starkville Sportsplex.
Coach Haynes said the victory likely put his team as the No. 5 seed and dropped Heritage Academy to the No. 6 seed. He said pairings for the double-elimination event, which will begin at 10 a.m., should be finalized today.
The top two teams will advance to the overall state tournament.
Lyndsey Haynes outdueled Kristyn Atkins for the victory. She struck out five, walked one, and hit one. Leadoff batter Jessee Mims had three of the hits, while Logan Waggoner had the other one.
Atkins struck out 10 and allowed only six hits. Errors in the first and sixth innings helped Starkville Academy score the only runs it needed.
Haynes didn''t have a hit in her final home game, but she thought the victory was what the team needed to prepare it for Saturday.
Last year, the Lady Volunteers hovered around the .500 mark and then suffered a setback to Oak Hill Academy in the North Half State tournament.
This year, Haynes hopes the Lady Volunteers can extend the season so she, Kylie Lockhart, and Renee Tatum can make their senior softball seasons last a little longer.
"It has made this year a lot more special to know this year is it. It has made me try a lot harder," said Haynes, who plans to study nursing next fall at the Mississippi University for Women.
Haynes'' ability to work in a changeup might make extending the season possible. She said she has become more comfortable throwing the off-speed pitch in any count, which helps keep hitter off balance.
"I did not throw that many last year because of my knee," said Haynes, who wore a brace on her knee after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament. "I am definitely going to work the changeup in the playoff more.
"Hopefully we can do good (in the playoffs)."
Heritage Academy coach Ginny Lowery praised the effort of Atkins, who she said has worked a lot indoors because of all of the rain in the area.
"She was pretty well rested, so I was expecting her to bring it pretty good," Lowery said. "I wasn''t expecting anything less. She works hard a lot on her own. She is just one of those players you can always count on to do what she has to do off the field when she is not able to be on it."
Unfortunately, Heritage Academy couldn''t capitalize against Haynes. The Lady Patriots capitalized on an error to put runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth, but Haynes struck out her third batter in the inning to work out of the jam.
"I am proud of Lyndsey and (catcher) Bailey (Wofford)," coach Haynes said. "They are a great batterymates. They have had some spectacular games. We just did what we always say. We made the routine plays and got outs. Our defense pulled us through."
n New Hope 7-5, Northeast Lauderdale 1-4: At Columbus, Brandi Brantley and D.J. Sanders each had two RBIs in a five-run sixth inning in game one, and Jessica Moore and Kasey Stanfield had RBIs in game two to help the Lady Trojans sweet a doubleheader.
In game one, Haley Tutor, Lauren Holifield, and Morgan Hardin (RBI) had two hits, Kayla Scarborough and Sanders had RBI singles, Brantley doubled, and Moore and Anna Holley singled.
In game two, Holley had three hits, Sanders, Holifield, Boyle and Hardin had two hits, Stanfield doubled, Taylor Brown, Brantley, and Moore singled, and Tutor had a RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.