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Sluggish start: Early mistakes doom Natchez softball team against Vicksburg

Vicksburg’s Kelsey Lockridge slides safely into home plate as Natchez High School’s Destiny Lyles  misses a throw from  the outfield in the first inning. Vicksburg defeated Natchez 13-0 Thursday night. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Vicksburg’s Kelsey Lockridge slides safely into home plate as Natchez High School’s Destiny Lyles misses a throw from the outfield in the first inning. Vicksburg defeated Natchez 13-0 Thursday night. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Natchez High head softball coach Falana McDaniel knew she had a challenge on her plate when she took over the team this year.

However, that didn’t cause her to shy away from the test.

Despite still being winless this season, the Lady Bulldogs put up a fight against Vicksburg Thursday, and that is what McDaniel was hoping for.

“I think we performed better than in other games,” McDaniel said. “I think they are growing. We still have a long way to go, but I think they are focusing more.”

Natchez found themselves in a hole early, after giving up eight runs in the top half of the first inning.

Despite not recording a hit, Vicksburg was able to plate eight runs off of eight walks, including three hit batsmen.

The Lady Gators pushed the lead to 10-0 in the third after Olivia Oakes smashed a triple to the fence to lead off the inning and scored on a wild pitch, and then Mya’h Wright hit an inside-the-park home run.

Vicksburg sealed the win in the fourth scoring three more runs to cap the scoring at 13-0.

Despite early struggles, Natchez High starting pitcher Orianna Howell was able to settle in and strike out five total batters.

“I think she did good,” said McDaniel of Howell. “A lot of times she looks at the scoreboard and may get a little frustrated.”

McDaniel said she has told her team that it isn’t necessarily what the scoreboard says at the end of the game that is the end-all-tell-all.

“I told the girls it is good to win, but the scoreboard doesn’t actually measure your growth, and as long as I am seeing them grow, that is what is important,” she said. “And I’ve seen that growth, but we still have a lot more to go.”

Destiny Woods recorded the only hit of the night for Natchez, a single in the third inning.

McDaniel said she has plans of how to improve the team’s hitting and hopes to work on it in practice.

“I’m talking to the girls about focusing more, too, and we are going to work on some different techniques for them during practice,” she said.