July 27, 2010 11:40:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
MACON -- The names might be different, but the approach will stay the same.
That''s the message Sammy Lindsey and the rest of the Central Academy fast-pitch softball team want opponents to know this season.
Central Academy, which went 23-9 and finished as the Class A runner-up in Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, will have to replace the holes left by the graduation of Lillian Lindsey, Alex Dawkins, Juliana Persons, and Veronica Rodriguez.
The Lady Vikings also learned late this summer that Corey Dawkins, Alex''s sister, and Marion Colvin, two of the team''s top players, have transferred to Pickens Academy.
The losses might cause some team to hit the panic button, but Lindsey feels the 2010 still has a lot of potential.
"We plan on the same thing that has been happening the past few years, getting to the playoffs and playing for a state championship," Lindsey said. "The younger players know there is always a time for them to step up, and now is the time. I think they have all accepted the challenge. They are all out there vying for positions, and everything looks positive."
Seniors Kendall Taylor and Megan Banks hope to take on a bigger leadership role on this season''s team. They will join classmates Kellie Hailey, Rachel Holley and Jamie Sciple, who are in their first seasons, and Sarah Norris as the ones who will be looked to to set the tone.
"I think we all have just been vocal and have tried to keep the younger girls up and determined even though we know we have a young team coming up," Taylor said. "We have to stay on our game and not get down because we have lost people or the seniors from last year. We can''t get depressed by it because if we do we won''t have a good season. We just have to keep the whole team up and carry out our leadership positions."
Said Banks, "The best way we can encourage them is through our actions. We can''t come through the dugout shaking our heads and getting mad if we messed up at bat or in the field. You have to do the best for your team."
Coach Lindsey said freshman Blake Rigdon and eighth-graders Paige Buchanan and Kayla Brown will handle the pitching duties. Lindsey, Alex Dawkins, and Colvin shared those responsibilities last season and helped the program, which won a slow-pitch title in 2009 and was runner-up in 2010, record its best fast-pitch finish.
The players believe that tradition and the fact they have known each other, many of them since they were 3 years old, will help them overcome their losses and build on the tradition.
"We have all grown up with each other, so we know exactly how everybody works and what their personality is," Banks said. "On the softball field it is easier to read them and to see what they''re feeling or to get them pumped up."
Despite the team chemistry and the potential of the younger players, Taylor knows the Lady Vikings will be challenged this season.
I don''t think it is going to be an easy thing because we have a lot of new players, but I don''t think it is going to be a bad thing, either," Taylor said. "It is just going to take determination. I think we''re all going to stay up as a team to keep each other up."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.