Lady Tigers ready for second chance at Cubbies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – The Demopolis High School varsity softball team will get a chance at revenge on Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. as they begin the double-elimination championship series against Alexandria at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

And according to DHS head coach Wayne Harris, past experience should help the Lady Tigers as they prepare for Thursday’s first game.

“Hopefully, it [being there in the past] will help our nerves as far as on-the-field play and everything,” Harris said.

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“There’s experience for both teams.

We won 4A in 2003 and Alexandria won 4A in 2004, so I guess on paper it’s a nice match-up for names.

Hopefully, we can use it as a little extra motivation – they [Alexandria] are the team that we played in the first round last year and you take away the few errors that we committed and instead of 3-0 it’s a 0-0 ball game.

We hit the ball straight at people and just didn’t get base hits when they scored a couple of runs off a couple of errors – so take that away and maybe we would have been getting our second in a row.”

Coach Harris believes that the Lady Tigers’ physical skill is solid, but their mental game must improve if the girls want to win the championship series.

“The physical skill is there, it’s just the mental game – knowing what to do when you get the ball, making good, concise throws, when a runner gets on base not falling asleep,” Harris said.

“Every team is subject to some type of mental breakdown.

When you get over there and it’s double-elimination and everybody is going home except for those winning, it’s just making sure that we take care of the little bitty details.

That’s what will help us win a ball game.”

The DHS Lady Tigers have done a good job of holding runners on base this season, especially in the playoffs, and that will again be vital in this weekend’s championship title run,

“At the beginning of the year, I told the girls we were going to give up hits and give up runs and had to score runs,” Harris said.

“But you give up a hit, just get the next person out.

And we’ve done a good job of keeping the runners from advancing.

You can live giving up a hit an inning as long as you get three outs before that runner scores, and we’ve done a good job of that all year long.”

The Lady Tigers are returning to the state championship after knocking off Elmore County this past weekend in two games, setting up a re-match against the Cubs.

“Elmore County had a good team,” Harris said.

“They have consistently gotten better.

I talked to a coach today that talked about them and said they have slowly gotten better throughout the years and they are trying to develop a base core of kids that know what to do to get to the next level and I think that our refusal to quit helped.

And we do tend to feed off of one mistake – if you give us an opportunity then we’ll take advantage of it.

A lot of teams are like that and that’s what separates the people still playing from those who have packed it up for the year.”

Demopolis will opt for Brittany McGee in game one and coach Harris is still undecided on who will pitch the second game.

“Brittany [McGee] will be pitching game one and then game two we just to have to see on time and who we end up playing,” Harris said.

“Consistency is good, but at the same time we have to look at match-ups and you can’t speculate on who you’re going to play right now – we’re going to focus on that first game.

It’s got to be one game at a time.”

‘One game at a time’ is exactly the way coach Harris wants his girls to think as they make their second straight appearance in the state finals.

“If you go down with a fight – whether it’s getting a hit or stealing a base or finding a way to score runs – we feed off of that,” Harris said.

“There’s a lot of heart and a lot of character and a lot of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this year and we’re very thankful to still be playing.

“Let’s go over there and have fun.

Last time I looked there were 66 4A schools and there’s not but eight still playing, so it’s an honor and a privilege to be over there.

And let’s go over there and have fun and play our game.

If we play like we’re supposed to play and capable of playing and play as a team, good things will happen.”

Playing as a team – whether a freshman or a senior – will be vital to the Lady Tigers winning a state title.

And coach Harris feels his girls have played enough ball to get the job done.

“One of the juniors told me the other day that another week and they’ll be the seniors,” Harris said.

“But by now it’s senior, junior, sophomore, freshman – they’re all veterans.

We’ve played fifty or so ball games – I was looking the other day and saw that Brittany has thrown right at 200 innings – and just in her numbers, there’s a lot of ball.

And you factor in Sara and Brandi with their innings as well, we’ve played a lot of ball and everybody’s had plenty of time to learn what it takes to win.”

Beginning tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m., the Lady Tigers and coach Harris will get a chance to prove they belong in the elite group of superior softball teams.

“I love ending my year in Lagoon Park,” Harris said.

“I like playing at home in Demopolis, but I would much rather my season end in Lagoon.”