By Gene Phelps
Baldwyn coach Jessica Taylor was looking forward to slow-pitch softball season, especially with a lineup that featured eight seniors.
Then her experienced Lady Bearcats opened their season with a not-so-impressive 10-2 loss to Corinth.
Now, 22 games later, they haven’t suffered defeat. Baldwyn heads into tonight’s Division 1-2A game at Mantachie with a 21-1 record.
“I don’t know what happened,” Taylor said, then laughed. “We exploded after that loss to Corinth. I keep thinking we’re going to have a bad game.
“We’ve had a bad inning, but not a bad game.”
The Lady Bearcats came into the season with an experienced, solid defense – a trademark of Taylor-coached teams. The difference has been on offense. Baldwyn is pounding the ball.
In a win against Walnut, the Lady Bearcats’ bats produced 25 hits. The team, Taylor says, is averaging 14-16 hits per game.
Baldwyn has also hit for power. Senior outfielder Jorda Waters, the clean-up batter, leads the way with 11 home runs, including four in the team’s last three games.
“I don’t know,” Waters said, when asked to explain her power. “We’ve all worked extremely hard on our hitting.”
Taylor believes Waters’ powerful swing is the answer.
“She’s been hitting the ball hard, extremely hard,” the coach noted. “She has some confidence and she hasn’t slowed up.”
The team’s top four batters, all seniors, have provided a bulk of the offense – outfielder Mackenzie Riley, shortstop Maggie Martin and outfielder Sheneria Tyes.
In the circle, junior Hayley Sandlin has been steady.
This season’s goal is to reach Ridgeland and the Class 2A state championship series. Last year’s team was eliminated by eventual state champion Hamilton on the Lady Bearcats’ home field at Latimer Park.
“It was awful, probably the worst feeling ever,” Waters said. “That’s the way it is when you have so much passion for something.
“My dream, since I was little, was to go to state and win a ring.”
Tonight’s game at Mantachie will likely dictate postseason seeding.