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Aiming for wins

Pleasant Home’s Emily Byrd delivers a pitch during the area tournament last week in Kinston. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

To jell, or not to jell?

That is the question facing the Pleasant Home Eagles softball team heading into this weekend’s Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A South Regional Softball Tournament in Gulf Shores.

Since the season started, head coach Jimmy Reeves said there haven’t been opportunities where the “whole” team has practiced together.

“It seems like this year, we have had a real — not a distraction — but a thing that’s kept us from jelling with them being off on academic trips and things like that,” he said. “You want that, but it still hurts us as far as being able to practice together.”

In addition, Reeves said he hopes the team will come together and start playing the way he wants them to.

“I feel like we haven’t got hot all year,” Reeves said. “I’m hoping that it’ll be time that we all can get hot together, maybe. Sometimes that happens, and that’s what I’m hoping for (at the regional tournament).”

Pleasant Home has been in luck this week at practice, where the Lady Eagles have had two full practices as of Wednesday.

The Lady Eagles will start their regional tournament run Friday afternoon at 12:30 against Ariton on Field No. 3 at the Gulf Shores Sports Complex.

Earlier this season, the Lady Eagles faced Ariton, and lost 3-0.

“They’ve got a very, very good team,” Reeves said. “It seems like we match up with them every year for about 10 years in a row.

“We’ve been real fortunate to pull out some wins against them, but they’ve got a very strong team this year. It’ll take a great effort from our kids to be able to beat them this year.”

Along with Ariton, Pleasant Home is in the same group with Fruitdale, Butler County Magnet School, J.U. Blacksher, McIntosh, Kinston and Brantley.

As far as what the keys are this weekend for the Lady Eagles, Reeves said it always starts with “defense.”

“That’s what we’ll go in trying to do first,” he said. “We’ll try to have good pitching and good catching, and play good defense and then hopefully, the bats will come around.”

At the regional tournament, the Lady Eagles will stick to what they have been doing all year — play small ball.

“We very much believe in small ball type games,” Reeves said. “It’s been very effective for us over the years, and it has been again this year.”

Three players for Pleasant Home; Kayla Woods, Cailee Jernigan and Gina Davis all bat left-handed, even though they are right-handed, to execute a slap-bunt.

“It takes an unselfish kid to do that because all of them like to see how far they can hit,” Reeves said. “If you can get a kid to buy into it — to be unselfish and put the ball on the ground and get bunt slaps and singles like that — then it sure helps the team a lot.”

Throughout the season, the Lady Eagles have employed the use of throwing three pitchers during games.

That wasn’t the case at the Class 1A, Area 3 tournament in Kinston last week, where Pleasant Home finished runner-up.

Reeves said he doesn’t know how he’s going to handle the pitching situation, yet.

So far at practice this week, the team has had a good attitude and are happy to be playing in the regional tournament, Reeves said.

“They’re fired up about going and playing,” Reeves said.

Additionally, Reeves said he would be “proud” of the girls if they play well at the tournament this weekend.

“I’ll say that I’ll be very proud to get out of the regional tournament successful — if we go down there and play well,” he said. “I’ll be very proud of them because of the adversity that they’ve had to face this year.

“It’ll be a big accomplishment if they were able to overcome all the adversity they’ve had and be able to get back to Montgomery, but it’s going to be a big hill to climb.”