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Overcoming adversity the common theme for Poplarville’s varsity softball

There were high expectations heading into the season for the Poplarville softball team. The team had a successful season the year before, and with key players coming back the squad was poised for another competitive year.

Even with those positives coming in, the team had its up and downs, mostly due to a list of injuries that hindered the team’s ability to bond together and develop a consistent game plan.

“Softball had high expectations last year,” Head Coach Jonathan Ray said.

“We were runner ups the previous year, and didn’t lose anybody going into the season but then there were a string of injuries.”

The team had no choice but to keep pressing on through the bad luck and losses, and Coach Ray was really impressed with how his girls handled the pressure.

“Even with all that adversity we got back to 500 before playoffs and were third in division,” Ray said.

“Something I told the team all year was that this was the most enjoyable team to coach because of how they handled adversity and stuck together. Despites the wins and losses it was still enjoyable.”

According to Ray, there were some positives even with the injuries of key starters, one of which was that younger players who wouldn’t have gotten the experience otherwise are now veterans with a lot of game time under their belts.

“We had to put people out of position, which opened the door for younger players to step up and play well,” Ray said.

“They’re going to be hungry those returning because we had a lot of younger players that are coming back that got a lot of experience. There are players in the program that we feel can step up.”

Those younger players did step up, and were key in helping the Hornet’s softball team fight for the record they had. The end result though wasn’t there often times, and Coach Ray knows that next season they’ll have to get back to where the program is used to being.

“It hurt our consistency,” Ray said.

“We lost games that in years past we would’ve won because we would’ve had some consistency. It’ll make them hungry, that was the first losing season in 14 years, and they keep up with that kind of stuff. They know the expectations year to year of where we’re supposed to be. This year we just couldn’t get the hit or defensive play or pitching that we needed.”

That may change this upcoming season with a big class of returning seniors who were key starters last year.

“It’s really going to be a team effort, and because we had so many that did play it’ll start with incoming senior class,” Ray said.

“Every senior are returning starters, so that’s a good thing to have. We’ve got pieces and there will be a few spots where we’ll be looking for someone to step up.”