Lady Wave returns plenty; Franklin opens today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The line instructs, &uot;Don’t sweat the small stuff.&uot;

However, if you’re in the cleats of Cathedral softball head coach Cloyce Hinton right now, it’s all about the small stuff for a team that was 4-11 with one division 7-1A victory a season ago.

&uot;One thing we’re really harping on is doing the little things &045; base running, where they’re supposed to be on a run down, how to play a batter defensively,&uot; Hinton said. &uot;If those things are accomplished, the bigger picture will fall into place.&uot;

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It is a more seasoned collection of Greenies that take to the field in the season opener at intratown foe Natchez High at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Cathedral is an experienced-laden team with four seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup.

Seniors Leighton McDaniel, Laura Huffines, Kate Reed and Kati Hinton, along with juniors Emily Stevens and Jordan Chandler have subtly risen as leaders for Cathedral, Cloyce Hinton said.

&uot;We’re a whole lot older than last year,&uot; he said. &uot;The four seniors on the team have played together for quite a while. I think it will help us, especially in our district games.&uot;

Cathedral held a seven-inning scrimmage last Thursday, where players’ parents were invited out to flood the bleachers to increase the realism of the litmus test.

With a new provision from the Mississippi High School Athletic Association declaring all divisions from Classes 1-3A will now send four teams to the playoffs instead of two previously, the Green Wave hope to taste postseason nectar.

&uot;This year our goal is to make the playoffs,&uot; Hinton said. &uot;We want them to learn the game, have fun doing it and learn how to play as a team. Wins will come if we can get those things done.&uot;

Cathedral prevailed in just one division contest last year, a win against Salem, and will again have its hands full in one of the most trying divisions in all of Class 1A, Hinton believes.

But with an early-season schedule that includes two games with Class 5A Natchez, a pair with Class 4A Lawrence County and a spot in the stout Franklin County Tournament, Hinton hopes Cathedral will be ready for division play come Sept. 4 against Bogue Chitto.

&uot;I think the girls know that they can play&uot; with any team, he said. &uot;Defensively, they’re as comfortable as I’d want them to be. We had an off-season program of lifting weights and running. They worked real good to get stronger.&uot;

Disappointment prompts you to re-evaluate how you do things. Cathedral players took a long, hard stare in the mirror and saw some changes needed to be made.

From that, a conditioning system transpired and the players are fearless when it comes to questioning why they do certain things.

Where last year practices could run upwards of four hours, the Green Wave’s knowledge and experience has Hinton turning them back over to moms and dad after only an hour-and-a-half.

&uot;This is a very focused group of girls, and a fun bunch to coach because they’re coachable,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s not like I have to work them to death. They’re smart; they pick it up quickly.&uot;

The only area of concern for Hinton right now is his pitching staff, or lack thereof. Currently, only two complete the rotation, including seventh-grader Elizabeth Blackwell.

Gone is one of last year’s starters Chelsi Smith, who moved across to Vidalia in order to play for the Class 2A defending state fast-pitch champs in Louisiana.

&uot;We’ve been hitting on the pitching machine quite a bit, but there’s nothing like live pitching,&uot; Hinton said. &uot;I’m short on my arms so I don’t want to work (the pitchers) real hard.&uot;

Franklin County

MEADVILLE &045; If the Bulldogs are to compliment last year’s 11-6, playoff season with a return trip, they’ll have to do with some youth.

Head coach Leonide Sullivan lost seven seniors from a team that was 6-2 in division 7-3A.

Only an individual senior and one junior will be in the starting lineup when Franklin County faces Prentiss at the Enterprise Classic at 11.15 a.m. today.

&uot;We’ve talked to them about what the possibilities are if they play to their abilities. We’d like to go back to the playoffs like all teams who set goals.

&uot;It’s entirely up to them, though, by how hard they continue to work.&uot;