‘We will surprise a lot of teams,’ Buck looks forward to first year coaching AC softball

Published 12:48 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — Adams County Christian School’s softball program will be going in a new direction under a new head coach in 2023 after eight good years under now former head coach Tate Lipscomb.

“It was time for me to move on,” Lipscomb said. 

Head Coach Savannah Buck has stepped in and revitalized the program with a new energy. She is personally excited for the first pitch because of how hard the girls have worked to this point of the summer. AC’s first softball game is in a month. 

Email newsletter signup

“I can tell every day their attitudes are better and they are encouraging each other. They give max effort and they want  to be better,” Buck said. “It is a good feeling when they finally get it. It is fun. They are very involved. We talk about what they want to do. I ask them questions and they ask me questions about game situations. They care about what we are doing and I appreciate it.” 

The Lady Rebels finished fourth in MAIS District 3-5A in 2022 and then had their season come to a quick end after losses to District 4 No. 1 seed Brookhaven Academy in the first round and then to District 3 No. 2 seed and cross-town rival Cathedral School in a losers’ bracket game.

Buck coached four seasons at St. Aloysius High School in Vicksburg. She played softball at Belhaven before taking the job at St. Al was the head coach for softball and girls basketball. 

While Buck said she was a physical education and health teacher at St. Aloysius those four years but her long-term goals were to be an administrator and become an athletic director. One of the reasons she decided to take the head softball coaching job at ACCS when it was offered to her was because it would help her reach those goals. 

“It was something I couldn’t turn down. It was more geared toward my long-term goals,” Buck said. “I love the school and I love the staff here. It was a better fit here. I established a relationship with all the girls. I did hitting lessons down (here) the last four years.”

Trying to get ACCS to re-establish its winning program in softball may be a tough task for Buck in her first year coaching the Lady Rebels. They lost five seniors from last year’s team — Paris Harveston, Georgia Martin, Kate Parsons, Kaylin Temples, and Ella Wilson. And while they will have seven seniors on this year’s team, only one has played softball her entire career at ACCS — third baseman Camryn Strittman, whom Buck said will be the team captain.

Buck added that her goals for the Lady Rebels this season are to get better every day, to learn the game, and work hard every day – win or lose.

“I want them to encourage each other and stay positive every game. They’re ready on the physical side. I want them to be better mentally. To be together as one unit,” Buck said. “I just want to see them do well. They want to do it too. I want them to see they can do it and push through the adversity. Every single day we will show up and work.” 

Along with Strittman, other key players returning for the 2023 season at ACCS are freshman shortstop Leala Ray and sophomore pitcher Mia Drane.

“Leala’s got a very strong bat. She’s worked with me for several years, so I glad to have her on our team. Mia, she was injured quite a bit last year. She’s going to be our No. 1 pitcher on the mound,” Buck said. The whole team that’s returning, they’re strong. I think they’re going to be good overall.”

Buck noted that she worked with pitchers and catchers in February. Then in March right after Spring Break, the Lady Rebels had tryouts for the new kids. After a break for much of May, summer practices started on May 30 with 32 players. AC will have eight pitchers in total four left handers and four right handers. 

The Lady Rebels hosted their first camp from June 12 through June 14. Buck said it was the first camp that ACCS softball had ever done; it was for kids age seven through 12. She described it as a “huge success.”

Team bonding activities in the spring and practices have developed a “camaraderie.” Buck said she has enjoyed watching the growing process of players learning and positive relationship changes. She feels confident her father Jeff Buck can help run practices. 

“He is one of the hardest working men,” Buck said. “He is incredible and right there with me every step of the way. He is unmatched. He is doing everything he can to support me.” 

The Lady Rebels start their 2023 season on Friday, July 28 at Bowling Green School in Franklinton, La. at 5 p.m. Their first home game is the following Monday, July 31 against Wilkinson County Christian Academy, also starting at 5 p.m

ACCS will play in the new MAIS District 4-5A with familiar opponents in Cathedral, Copiah Academy and St. Aloysius along with newcomer Providence Classical Academy out of Bossier City, La. Buck said she looks for this to be a very competitive district.

“I think this year we will surprise a lot of teams,” Buck said.

Getting settled in

Buck moved to two with four fur babies. Two dogs named Remy and Ruger and two cats named Cleo and Bert. One of her cats has not enjoyed the move and sticks to a favorite window, refusing to come down except to eat, she said. 

A native of Jasper, Georgia, Buck said the move to Natchez is the first time she felt like she was back home since living in Mississippi. Vicksburg was a great community but Natchez feels different, she added. 

“Everyone has been so nice. I have great assistant coaches,” Buck said. “I have gotten a lot of help and encouragement along the way. AC has stepped up for me and I’m glad to be here. Everyone is so close.”

Hunter Cloud contributed to this story.