The Lady Tide softball team is ready to rock

Published 10:36 am Thursday, June 20, 2019

The past two years have been a sort of rebuild for Coach Kristi Mitchell and the Picayune Memorial High School Lady Maroon Tide’s softball.

Mitchell lost eight seniors two seasons ago and since then she’s been bringing her program back to where she wants it to be.

Last year’s improvements saw the team nearly reach .500 and make it into the first round of the playoffs.

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“We had some youth, but we made great advances from last year to this past season,” Mitchell said.

“I thought we grew and developed as players and there was a lot of maturity as some leadership roles were filled.”

All three starting pitchers are returning, and Mitchell thinks the experience gained last year will help them reach their end goal, a state championship.

Until then, Mitchell has her girls doing summer conditioning workouts while also participating in summer leagues.

“It’s competitive and gives us the opportunity to play more players and in different positions,” Mitchell said.

“It gives them a chance to breathe, and relax a little bit and not be so stressed about winning some games.”

Summer games have multiple benefits, and the coaching staff is ready to see what comes of the extra playing time

“It’s been nice to watch them relax and develop as players and grow together as a team,” Mitchell said.

“And I’m looking forward to next season already to see more growth.”

Mitchell has grown with this softball program. After taking over 25 years ago she decided that she wasn’t going to build a team, she was going to build a program.

“When you’re in one place for that long you see lows, highs, and all the in-betweens,” Mitchell said.

“I’ve been fortunate to have remarkable young women and outstanding athletes play for me. With each season it’s a new beginning, but it’s also a part of the program and what the girls before them did.”

That legacy has led to a certain set of expectations being put on the team prior to each season, and that legacy has lasted because of the youth leagues.

Mitchell said that for years the Picayune youth league built players that would end up in her program. The Picayune Junior High softball program has the same job, to groom and prepare athletes for the next level.

However, the girls are expected to be more than just athletes.

Mitchell’s expectations include off the field endeavors as well.

“We have high expectations for them as players and people,” Mitchell said.

“We expect them to have good grades, come to school and be leaders on campus.”

In addition to the academic endeavors of the team, Mitchell and the squad also try as often as possible to give back to the community that has given so much to them.

“We try to teach the players to give back to them as much as we can,” Mitchell said.

“The community helped us to build a 3,200 foot batting facility and dressing room.”

“When I walk in our facility I see what our community and past players have done for this program.”

Due to the learning experiences of last year, and the support of the community, Mitchell expects great things this upcoming season.

“Our number one goal is to win the championship,” Mitchell.

“We’ll take those goals and break them down step by step and take care of the first step before going onto the next one.”

“Going into this season I feel secure knowing the girls will work hard in offseason getting stronger and faster.”