April 17, 2010 11:28:00 PM
Tabitha Beard wants to see more of a yes-yes-yes attitude.
If the New Hope High School fast-pitch softball coach gets her wish, there''s no reason why the Lady Trojans can''t challenge for a state title.
But New Hope is going to have to hit more like it did Saturday to realize that goal.
Coming off a one-run loss to Kosciusko on Friday in which it had only five hits, New Hope more than doubled that number in a 9-2 victory against Cleveland and nearly did in a 10-1 victory against Columbus Saturday in the final two varsity games of the New Hope Tournament at Lady Trojan Field.
Haley Tutor had three hits and two RBIs, Kasey Stanfield had two hits and two RBis, Kaitlin Bradley had two hits, and Lauren Holifield and Jessica Moore had two RBIs against Cleveland to lead an 11-hit attack.
"They seemed a lot more confident and settled," Beard said. "They were aggressive."
Against Columbus, D.J. Sanders had two hits in a nine-hit attack to help New Hope improve to 17-5. Holifield had three RBIs and Anna Holley and Bradley had two RBIs
Jessica Richardson had a double for Columbus'' only hit in the three and a half inning game.
The Lady Trojans started the day with a more aggressive attitude at the plate, which Beard said will be crucial if they want to contend for a Class 5A state title.
Beard said New Hope didn''t attack enough early in the count Friday in a 2-1 loss to Kosciusko. She said she reminded the players after the loss that they can''t allow quality pitchers to get ahead in counts and then dictate the course of an at-bat. She was more pleased with her players'' approach against Cleveland.
"I preach a lot about not getting yourself in trouble, especially against a pitcher like Kosciusko had last night," Beard said. "She had a great riseball. If you watch the first-pitch riseball, you''re forced to have to hit some bad pitches. I thought we more aggressive at the plate today."
New Hope broke the Cleveland game open with seven runs in the second inning. The outburst nearly didn''t happen after Stanfield walked and Anna McCrary reached on a sacrifice bunt. Moore, the No. 8 hitter, came up with Jordan Johnson, who was pinch running for Stanfield, on third and McCrary on second. With Johnson breaking for home on an attempted suicide squeeze, Moore failed to make contact. Johnson was nearly halfway home, but she recovered and moved safely back to third base after the third baseman couldn''t handle the throw from the catcher. Moore made Cleveland pay by lining the next pitch to right field for a two-run single.
Beard said she didn''t want to give Moore another bunt sign after nearly running into an out on the first attempt.
"She just did a great job of getting the hit down," Beard said.
Cleveland coach David Price, whose program eliminated New Hope in the Class 4A fast-pitch playoffs last season, said New Hope is as good a team as past teams, and that the Lady Trojans are capable of producing up and down the lineup.
Starting pitcher Emily Hatcher was strong in helping Cleveland beat Northeast Lauderdale 7-1 in the game preceding the matchup against New Hope. Price said Hatcher "ran out of gas" and wasn''t as effective as she needed to be against a potent Lady Trojans lineup.
"New Hope is a good team. They always are," said Price, whose team slipped to 13-8. "They hit the ball well. I think they just took it to us today."
Cleveland will be the runner-up to Kosciusko in Class 4A, Division 3, District 3. Price said New Hope compares to many of the top teams in Class 5A. He said the Lady Trojans seem pretty solid to him compared to past years and look a lot like a competitive (Class 6A) Grenada team his squad faced earlier in the season.
"It seems like they were improved (hitting up and down the lineup)," Price said. "Of course we didn''t pitch very well today, but they sure seemed to hit the ball well."
Beard said the Lady Trojans haven''t consistently had the attitude at the plate she wants them to. Instead of being ready to swing and keeping their hands and bodies in motion and then opting not to swing when they realize it is a ball, she said the Lady Trojans too often have a no-no-no-OK yes attitude, and by then it is too late.
"We have to want to hit," Beard said. "We should be the person who wants to be up to bat with runners at second and third with two outs. Instead, it is sort of a squeamish attitude, at times, but we''re working on it. We have talked about it, and we talked about it a lot last night because we get in trouble against really good pitchers because I can''t make them understand that you have to swing early and often to stay away from her junk."
New Hope will try to master that skill in the final week of the regular season. With a Division 3, District 1 title secure, the Lady Trojans will play host to the runner-up in Division 2, District 1. A series victory could send New Hope on to a matchup against a team, possibly Neshoba Central, from Division 4, District 6.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
Sad commented at 4/18/2010 12:02:00 PM:
Columbus softball team and coach is a Joke. You should have seen how they acted. Can you say no discipline? They have been 10 run ruled in every game that they have played.It's time for a new coaching staff.Is there any winning sports program at Columbus?
ranheroff commented at 4/18/2010 5:16:00 PM:
You ran off one of the best softball coaches in the area a couple of years ago. You can fault the athletic administration for that because they don't want any other sport to win if football can't win. When you have the leaders at Columbus High and in the district office who will not tolerate coaches trying to discipline, you get what they have now. Parents were the problem with the last coach so I would say that as long as the current coach doesn't try and discipline any of her players, she will have a job forever.
Coach commented at 4/19/2010 11:37:00 AM:
""You" nothing. I am in the county. Columbus has never had a good softball coach. A good coach don't let the Parents run her program.
ranheroff commented at 4/19/2010 1:12:00 PM:
The coach was removed from her job because she stood up to a black parent who went crying to the administration. She was doing a great job until mama got upset her child wasn't playing or was getting disciplined. Anyway, the coach was the best thing that had ever happened to the Columbus softball program and the administration let the parents tell them to fire her. Now look what they got. NOTHING and that's what they deserve for being stupid parents. "A" was and is still a winner; too bad Columbus wouldn't let her build a winning program.