Higher expectations

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

High expectations doesn’t even begin to describe what Straughn’s varsity softball program has this season.

For the past two years, the Lady Tigers have come up short, finishing runner-up in the Class 3A state tournament in Montgomery.

This season, it’s different for one reason — the players want to quench their appetite.

“I think they are all still hungry because we still haven’t gotten it yet after two years,” Straughn coach Ray Wilson said. “Getting that close and finishing second has made them more hungry every year. (Laughs) It’s like dangling something in front of your face, but you can’t get it.”

In 2008, the Lady Tigers came all the way back through the losers’ bracket to end up falling short to Pisgah, 7-0.

A year later, then-No. 4 Straughn again crawled its way up the losers’ bracket to end up falling to No. 6 West Morgan 2-0 in the finals.

Even on the popular social-networking Web site Facebook, players are expressing their eagerness for the coveted blue trophy.

On a recent status update, senior Kayla Messer said, “We had a great practice! Keep it up, and y’all better be ready for SHS softball this year cuz we ain’t holding nothing back! Blue this year baby!”

Wilson said the majority of the players from the past two seasons are back for another year.

“We have some experienced young ladies this year,” he said. “They just work well together. They feed off of each other and that’s a big part of it. Even though it’s the same group of ladies, it’s a whole new personality because they’re a year older and they’ve got other things in their lives this year than they did last year.”

Returning starters this season from last year are seniors Stephanie Bracewell (catcher), Kayla Messer (third base, short stop) and Kayla Teel (second base); and juniors, Tiffany Taylor (first base, pitcher), Kaitlynn Wiggins (pitcher, short stop), Katy Messick (pitcher, third base), Kelli Wilcox (center field) and Tori Bracewell (right field).

“For the rest of them, it’s day-to-day,” Wilson said.

Katie Beck, Bethany Whatley and Hannah Twitty will be outfielders for Straughn this season as well.

Megan Johns and Kari Biggs round out the team as sophomores.

Straughn’s first contest will be this Friday and Saturday at Troy’s softball tournament.

Wilson said his approach this season will not change that much, but he wants his team to be “peaking at the right time.”

“That’s one of those things you try to base on experience in other years,” he said. “You try to do the things that will help in that nature.

“I hope to be peaking in May when the area tournament starts,” he said.

The Lady Tigers are in Class 3A, Area 3 with Calhoun, Central-Hayneville and Luverne.

As far as goals are concerned, Wilson said he would wait until mid-season to find out what they are from his players’ standpoint.

“There is no doubt what they want and what I want,” Wilson said. “Then, we kind of break it down to where each team member knows their role on the team. In my mind, I think that’s the most important team concept is making sure each and every player knows their own role and understands that.”