By Gene Phelps/Daily Journal
NETTLETON – Jabria Pounds knows exactly what she would be doing if Nettleton High School didn’t have girls slow pitch softball.
“I’d be sitting around the house getting fat,” said the Lady Tigers’ junior outfielder.
Instead, Pounds spends her late summers, early falls belting home runs, not gobbling down snacks and watching TV.
Last season, she hit 19 home runs, recorded 69 RBI and batted .526. This season, she has blasted seven homers, driven in 19 runs and is batting .824 through six games.
“Look how fluid her swing is,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said as he watched his star hit off a tee in practice. “She’s a natural athlete. She swings the bat well; she runs well.”
Pounds exits softball season and hits the gym, where she starts at guard for the girls basketball team. Surprisingly, she doesn’t play fast pitch softball in the spring.
“She’s too tired after basketball,” Rhea said. “We’d love to have her play fast pitch. I think she would be a really good player.”
Problem is, Rhea noted, Pounds didn’t play softball growing up, so adjusting to batting in fast pitch would be difficult. “She would struggle with hitting because she’s never played,” he said.
That’s not the case in slow pitch. Throw the ball over the plate and she will likely deposit it over the fence. That’s when she gets a pitch to hit. When the 2013 season ends, it’s a safe bet she will lead Northeast Mississippi in intentional walks drawn.
In last week’s win against Hamilton, she was walked three times. She hit two homers with four RBI in the two at-bats the Lady Lions pitched to her.
“It’s frustrating, especially after you’ve worked so hard in practice,” she said. “I have to pick out pitches to hit. Mostly I’m pitched inside and deep … sometimes short.
“When I hit a home run, they’ve made a mistake.”
Rhea believes he has a powerful enough lineup following Pounds in the batting order to give her some productive at-bats. “I know when we get to division play, teams are not going to let her beat them,” he said. “But, she has Kaleigh Tackett, Taylor Smith and Harley Tucker batting behind her.”
Tackett, Smith and Tucker produced six hits and two homers in the Hamilton game.
“Pick your poison,” Rhea said, then smiled.