June 19, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy had a winning fast-pitch softball season this past fall, but the players and coach Randy Haynes believe it could have been much better.
As the Lady Volunteers prepare for this season by playing in the High School Summer League at the Starkville Sportsplex, they hope to learn the little things that will help them turn close losses into wins.
Starkville Academy pitcher Lyndsey Haynes, daughter of the coach, knows a better start in games will go a long way to helping the team produce positive results.
"We need to get ahead quicker, but usually we stay behind and try to push our way back," Haynes said. "Usually the other team will go back and forth with us, so we need to get better leads in the game."
Coach Haynes said the Lady Volunteers lost too many 2-1 and 1-0 games last season.
A little adjustment will go a long way to helping the Lady Volunteers improve on last year''s 18-17 record.
"We''ve got to have a little more offense," coach Haynes said. "Defense should be about the same, but we''ve got to generate more offense."
After losing five seniors to graduation, Starkville Academy might have lost much of its punch.
The Lady Volunteers will look to Haynes, Bailey Wofford, and Renee Tatum at the top of the order to jumpstart the offense.
Lyndsey likes the team''s chemistry.
"We''ve all been playing together for a long time," Haynes said. "We have a few new people, so we''re not as experienced as the seniors we had last year, but everybody tries as hard as they can."
If the offense doesn''t come around like coach Haynes hopes, Lyndsey knows she has to protect things in the circle.
"It will be up to me when we do get the early lead and not put runners on base," Lyndsey said. "As a pitcher, the big challenge this year will be not to walk or hit leadoff batters every inning. That''s been a problem for us."
Coach Haynes is using the summer to get players in the right positions and to work out all of the kinks.
"We''ve got to use it as a training tool," Haynes said. "Our team practices a lot in the spring, but we get to see real game situations in the summer and we get to see the girls under pressure."
Starkville Academy started its preparation by beating Caledonia and East Webster.
Those were the only times Haynes has had his full roster. Basketball camps and soccer camps have kept some of his players away from the field.
Starkville Academy''s performance early in the summer league encouraged Haynes.
"I was very pleased in beating the four-time Class 1A state champion (East Webster)," Haynes said.
Haynes hopes starting shortstop Mary Allison Barber will be able to return from a broken thumb in time to finish the summer and play this fall. She is wearing a brace to help speed the healing process.
As long as there are no further injuries and the pitching remains solid, coach Haynes has high hopes.
"We''re looking for Lyndsey to do better job of pitching, and that will take pressure off the defense," Haynes said. "We''re doing a little bit better of running the bases than we did last year."