By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
These Baldwyn Lady Bearcats have been here before. Their hope is to be somewhere next week they haven’t been, the Class 2A fastpitch state championship series.
Swept in the North state finals last season, Baldwyn’s new hurdle is a best-of-three series beginning today at East Webster.
“They have more confidence. They’ve been there and know what to expect,” Baldwyn (21-8) coach Jessica Taylor said of her team. “They’ve learned to not get too high or too low.”
Taylor said past problems have stemmed from trying to do too much or play a little over-excited.
Junior outfielder Sheneria Tyes said there were simple lessons learned, like calling for flyballs. Those same mistakes have been made in a couple of fruitless trips to slowpitch North state as well. Tyes still remembers colliding with outfield teammate Jorda Waters.
It’s a junior-led group with one senior that has a different mindset a year older. All three starting pitchers are juniors: Savannah Alexander, Waters and Shelby Blackwell.
“I think we feel like this year we know we’re going to be OK,” said junior shortstop Maggie Martin. “It’s just different.”
Martin has made just one error all season and is hitting .270 with 11 RBIs from the second spot in the lineup. Tyes hits a team-high .375 from the three-hole and has driven in a team-high 29, with six triples. Junior MacKenzie Riley leads off the lineup, just behind Tyes with a .370 clip and a team-second 30 hits. The two have stolen 37 bases.
Taylor and assistant Dru Allen say it’s an overanalyzing team that is as tough on themselves as Taylor is, an athletic bunch that can make plays and adjust on the fly.
The three at the top of the lineup have been a consistent force to reach, move over and drive in runs, a consistency Taylor says runs through the whole lineup. She says usually when one hits, all hit and when one is off, everyone is, literally a team motion.
“Of course I want to get on every time, so they can move me around,” Riley said. “I think most of the time I get on, I score. We know if we work together, we’ll be fine.”