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Lady Tigers hold annual youth softball clinic

The Demopolis High softball team hosted its annual youth clinic Thursday, welcoming 46 girls from the Demopolis Dixie Youth Softball League to the Sports-Plex for an afternoon of encouragement and hands-on instruction.

“These girls are teaching and interacting,” DHS head coach Joey Browder said of his players’ efforts at the clinic. “It’s great. It makes you real proud of them. Not only are they teaching basics and mechanics, but they are taking time to encourage each girl.”

“Awesome,” DDYSL president Randall Smith said. “The girls respond very well to the teaching. I think it is a good thing for both the young girls and the high school girls. They are both learning.”

Browder said that the camp makes for a productive day for his team on a number of levels. It serves as one of the team’s primary fundraisers while also allowing the high school players to take a day away from practice and refocus on the game’s basics.

“It kind of puts things back in perspective for them,” Browder said. “I think the timing of this is good. In teaching, they are reminding themselves of the fundamentals. I think it reinforces things for them.”

“At practice, we don’t really get into the fundamentals,” senior Ashley Polk a DHS first baseman who has worked the clinic in each of its three years said. “But with this, you do slow it down and go step by step like you did when you were younger.”

Thursday’s clinic came as a reschedule after the event’s initial date was ruined by inclement weather. But Thursday saw little other than sunshine and smiles, a fact with which Smith was pleased.

“Weather has definitely been a challenge (in scheduling the event). And for an afternoon that is not on a Saturday, we’ve had a great turnout,” Smith said. “For the high school girls and the coaches to take the time out of their schedule to do this means a lot.”

Browder’s Lady Tigers were able to offer a little more individual attention at Thursday’s clinic than they have in years past as the program has the luxury of consisting of a varsity and junior varsity program this season.

“The more (players) we’ve got, the more individual attention each girl that participates (in the clinic) has,” Browder said. “That one-on-one interaction is very important.”

Polk said that individual interaction proves to be just as rewarding for the high school players as it is for the youth league participants.

“For us, it is getting to know the little girls that are going to, hopefully, one day take our places (in the high school program),” Polk said.

That progression is not lost on Browder, who understands that a strong youth league program acts as a feeder for the high school team.

“Demopolis Dixie Youth is the future of Demopolis High School softball,” Browder said. “Not only does it give the kids a chance to see what we’re all about, but it helps the parents to better understand our program.”