Playing for wins

Published 12:04 am Friday, May 9, 2014

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Straughn’s Jacie Williamson goes for a hit at center field during the Lady Tigers’ area series against Opp. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s going to play its brand of softball this weekend at the Class 3A South Regional in Gulf Shores.

Lady Tigers coach Kenny Skipper said when the girls start their tournament at 5 p.m. today against Slocomb, the game is going to be played the same as it has all year.

“If we play the game like it’s supposed to be played and our pitchers throw strikes, and we play solid defense, which I feel like we will, and we hit it around a little bit, then I think we should be fine,” Skipper said.

The last time Straughn played Slocomb was during the Elba Tune Up Tournament Championship, where the Lady Tigers fell, 1-0.

Skipper isn’t one for making excuses for that loss, but he did say that a couple miscues proved costly.

“We pitched a great game,” he said about the loss. “Hayden Willis gave up four or five hits, and we played good defense. We just didn’t hit.”

Whether they have a good game or not, the Lady Tigers will always stand by each other, which may end up helping out in the long run, Skipper said.

“This group plays so well together,” he said. “They do a really good job for playing with each other. I don’t have any problems with players getting angry because they don’t play. They know the ones who are supposed to be out there, and those who can make us so successful.

“It’s just a great group to be around,” he said. “They get after it at practice, and they get after it even more in games. They hate losing as much as I do. That’s kind of showed here lately, even in the games we’ve won.”

Last year, the Lady Tigers won three straight games, which they have to do again this year, to gain a berth to play in the state tournament next week in Montgomery.

Skipper said the girls are taking a lot of what they learned last year and will apply to this year’s regional.

“That probably gives them a little confidence,” he said. “Having success in that situation last year probably adds to their confidence. They probably aren’t as anxious as they were last year. We had three seniors last year, and most of the ones who started last year are starting this year. That helps them a little bit I think.”

Also having a good team chemistry base will help out, too, the coach said.

“Most of them have been playing together for years,” Skipper said. “They play so well together. They play so well for each other. That’s very important, and when I’m talking about a team sport, especially one like this, it’s a team sport and one that can be individualistic.

“Not a single one of them has asked me, hey coach, what’s my batting average this year?” he said. “They don’t even care about that. It’s just about winning. I’ve drilled it in their heads since day one about respecting the game, and playing it the way it’s supposed to be played.”