Lady Eagles playing better at right time

Published 12:02 am Friday, May 9, 2014

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Pleasant Home senior Helena Weaver tries for a throw at first. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Pleasant Home is starting to play better softball at the right time, and it comes at the best time as the Lady Eagles start their Class 1A South Regional play today at 3:30 p.m. against McKenzie in Gulf Shores.

Lady Eagles coach Bradley Stephens said his girls, along with himself, feel pretty good going into today’s regional.

“We’re starting to play better,” he said. “I think it’s like I’ve been saying to the girls all year. We’re going to have to keep things close. Our defense has played really well. Through the area tournament, I don’t know if we had an error in a game. Our offense has just got to start clicking.

“It’s like this every year, you’ve got to beat Brantley or Kinston once each, or you’ve got to beat one of them twice,” he said.

Stephens is talking about the other teams in his team’s bracket at the regional tournament, which include Brantley, Florala, Kinston, McKenzie, J.U. Blacksher, Fruitdale and McIntosh.

McKenzie enters the tournament with a pretty decent shortstop, who can cover a lot of ground on defense, throw and hit the ball well on offense, Stephens said.

Like last year’s tournament rules, the Lady Eagles only have to win their first three games to gain a berth to the state tournament.

Winning the first two games today is crucial, Stephens said.

“It really limits the games you play on Saturday,” he said. “If you win both (today), then you’re not having to battle all the way through the loser’s bracket. You might win one and lose one, and then you’ve got to get through it. It’s a lot quicker now. I tell you this is the first time since I’ve been coaching that we’ve played at 3:30 in the afternoon (today).”

Playing later in the afternoon is beneficial in a couple of ways.

“It helps with expenses for traveling,” Stephens said. “And our girls have a tendency to play better in the afternoon. They just play better in the afternoons. They’re a little more awake.”

Stephens said he’s looking for his two seniors — Brianna Dozier and Helena Weaver — to have a good tournament, and the rest to keep playing better.

“They’re excited,” he said about the girls. “They know what’s at stake. I feel like we’re playing our better ball at the right time, which is what you want.”