AHS starts fresh season

Published 8:58 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Winning their area and getting better at softball this season are two of many goals for the Andalusia Lady Bulldogs this year.

Andalusia won its first area game Thursday night because Hillcrest-Evergreen forfeit.

Last year, the Lady Bulldogs made it to the sub-state round of the playoffs, where they lost to Dadeville in a best-of-three series.

First-year Andalusia coach Anthony Mikel said the team is making good progress in the early season.

“My goal for the year, like I told the girls, is for us to get better at the game,” Mikel said. “Knowing where we’re supposed to be and knowing where we’re going on every play, playing sound defensive ball and executing as well as getting some runs scored. “Also, to win area, that’s my main goal is to win our area, head-to-head,” he said. “I’m pleased so far with our progress.”

Mikel said he has to play a lot of younger players this season, due to the seven seniors that graduated off the team last year.

“We’re playing a lot of youth with inexperience, but I think we’re going to get better,” he said. “I have high hopes for these players, and they do too.”

Mikel said the most important games this season are the ones that matter to the players.

“Area games are most important, but always you’ve got to contend with Straughn,” Mikel said. “Straughn wants to beat us and we want to beat them, that’s just one of those things. It’s good to have that rivalry, but both of us want to come out on top.

“That’s good because it gives us something to strive for,” he said. “Other than that, I’d love to win a tournament — at least one tournament this year. I just want these girls to be better ball players in May than they were in February.”

Right now, the Lady Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0 in Class 4A, Area 3) are still working out the kinks to get better for the rest of the season.

“We’re trying to get our hitting better,” Mikel said. “We’re also trying to make sure we know what it is to hit the ball and how to hit the ball with two strikes and hitting it with the count in your favor.”

Mikel added with this team, he has essentially had to “start over.”

“I’ve had to start over basically when you’ve graduated seven seniors,” he said. “We have three people on the team right now that have played at the varsity level. That’s all, and we’re trying to utilize those other six to know where they’re going to get in position every play and to make sure they know what to do every play.

“They’ve done an excellent job so far,” he said.

This is the first time for Mikel to be the head of a girls softball team and he said he has enjoyed it, since taking over for coach Wayne Sasser.

“The girls have been very receptive and the girls want to win,” he said. “Coaching girls is a big difference than coaching boys. With the girls, they don’t want to let you down in my personal opinion.

“They want to play hard because they want you to be proud of them,” he said. “I think they have that and they have a tremendous amount of respect for me. Really, there’s no other team I’d rather coach than this bunch of girls.”

Andalusia will be in Troy this weekend playing in the Trojan Classic.