July 22, 2014 12:13:09 AM
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy fourth-year softball coach Kayla Mosley knows the importance of a good working relationship between pitcher and catcher.
That is why she is pleased that junior pitcher Karlie Lockhart and junior catcher Adrienne Futral will be teaming up again to lead the Lady Volunteers.
"In this sport, you will go as far as your pitcher carries you," Mosley said. "Obviously, it takes several others as well. But really the pitcher is where it starts. To be able to have a pitcher and catcher combination that has been together is really huge. I think that will definitely be something that is in our favor this year."
The 2014 season starts at 4 p.m. Friday when Starkville Academy plays host to Oak Hill Academy.
"Karlie has gotten a lot better over the last couple of years as our only pitcher," Futral said. "We have really grown in this relationship. We do a good job of balancing one another. Like she is frustrated or I am frustrated, we do a good job of talking it out and balancing each other."
For the past couple of seasons, Starkville Academy has fielded a young team. The Lady Volunteers finished 8-17 last season and are looking for their first appearance in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools state tournament since 2010.
"We are now in that middle area," Mosley said. "We aren't nearly as young as we have been the last couple of years. At the same time, we will play a lot of sophomores and juniors. We have some new starters but we have more returnees than we have been having. So it is exciting to see this team grow and develop."
Starkville Academy is looking at some newcomers to also step in and contribute right away. The last couple of weeks of practice has been spent working with this new players and helping team become a cohesive unit.
"When you have new players, you have to learn how to play with them and you have to find out what their skills are," Starkville Academy sophomore second baseman Sarah Morgan Pellum said. "We have lot of girls who are around the same age. That makes it hard to have leaders because nobody wants to be the standout in their grade. They just want to fit in."
Futral also likes the makeup of this year's team. She feels like the Lady Volunteers will be able to do more things offensively and that they can also make strides on defense -- a problem area from a season ago.
"We have a lot of new people this year," Futral said. "They have been working real hard to catch up with everybody. You can tell already that we are going to have good chemistry. We have had a lot of fun getting ready for our first game."
Mosley also likes the experience of her squad. The entire outfield -- McLain Morgan, Aaron Lindley and Taylor Campbell -- returns, as does the battery.
"The experience we have is really going to help us out," Mosley said. "Karlie has really worked hard this summer and I am excited to see what she is going. We have a few new names. We are looking forward to getting started."
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter