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SHS looks for big run at state

No. 4 Straughn is ready to make another big run this year as the Lady Tigers open against defending Class 3A state softball champions Pisgah today at the state tournament in Montgomery.

Last year, the Lady Tigers (32-8) fell early in the tournament, but fought their way back through the losers’ bracket to face Pisgah in the championship game. Pisgah won, 7-0.

Straughn coach Ray Wilson said going back to the state tournament this year was a goal that was set earlier in the year.

“We’re glad to be going back this year,” Wilson said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to face Pisgah again.”

Wilson said this year will be a little different because the players are more “comfortable” competing at this level.

“I just think our girls are a little more comfortable,” he said. “Last year was their first time and I’m sure they were nervous. They didn’t know what to expect really. I told them last year that I thought we were testing the water a little bit in that first game. We didn’t know if we could compete with them.

“After that we realized we could, we started playing,” he said. “After we lost that first game (against Elkmont), we started playing a lot better. This year, we’ve kind of harped on the idea that we’re not going to go up there and test the water; we’re going to step on the gate ready play the first inning. It’s always good to get off to a good start and hopefully that will continue.”

Wilson said at practice this week the team has focused on hitting and base running as well as the usual defense practice.

“We noticed last week at the tournament what we did wrong as far as base running,” Wilson said. “I think the key again for us is executing bunts, moving runners around and putting them in position to score. Of course, hopefully we’ll continue to play good defense.”

That good defense paid off last weekend at the south regional tournament, where on Saturday, the Lady Tigers only allowed one run in three games.

Wilson said the environment on the team is excitement about going back to state.

“They are excited. The thing we’ve preached on is that our girls expect to win when they play,” he said. “There is not a whole lot of rah-rah on the team. It’s more of a business-like approach and that’s the way it’s continued to be throughout this week.”

Straughn will face Pisgah on Field No. 4 at Lagoon Park in Montgomery today at 10:30 a.m.