Ready for championship

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Sue Johnson is sick and tired.

The Natchez softball coach is sick and tired of winning the district almost every year, only to be sent home in the first or second round of the playoffs.

&uot;I’m tired of making the playoffs and getting sent home in the first round,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ve been coaching 20 years, and I’m ready to win a state championship.&uot;

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So she, and the rest of the Natchez High School Lady Bulldogs, sat out to change that on Monday as they hit the field to prepare for their season-opener against Wilkinson County Aug. 11.

&uot;I’m excited, optimistic,&uot;&160;Johnson said. &uot;We have a good team this year. A lot of these girls have played together for a while.&uot;

Johnson – entering her 20th year as a softball coach – said the Lady Bulldogs have won their district four straight years and haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs in many years.

&uot;It’s like they freeze up in the playoffs,&uot; she said of the team that returns a number of starters from last year’s 13-7 team. &uot;Once they get past the shock (of getting in the playoffs), they’ll do well.&uot;

She won’t put too much pressure on one group of players – like seniors, though. She expects solid play and leadership from each and every player on the team.

&uot;We’ve got three seniors returning,&uot; she said. &uot;Most of those girls have played together for five years at least. But I expect big things out of the entire team, not just one player – the whole team.

Via district changes, the Lady Bulldogs are paired with Warren Central – last year’s runners up to the state champions – and Vicksburg, so the going won’t be easy, she said.

Johnson said the team has to iron out a few rough spots as she barked out commands and corrected throwing and fielding techniques on Monday. &uot;We’re ready to go.&uot;

The Lady Bulldogs will open the season with a fun game at Wilkinson County, and open district play at Warren Central on Aug. 25.