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Poplarville softball locked in for preseason

The Poplarville Lady Hornets softball team has been splitting time in the batting cages, weight room and on the field as they prepare for the start of the season.

After school practices will begin on Jan. 27 and the first game of the season will be in mid February.

The team has transitioned from offseason workouts to preseason workouts and the main focus has been getting the players as much practice as possible, whether it be at the plate, on the mound or out in the field.

The team will be returning several starters and has a good group of seniors.

Familiarity between the players has led to good team chemistry and Head Coach Jonathan Ray said his players come ready to work each day.

“They’re getting after it really well. I like their energy and willingness to work. They’re progressing as planned,” Ray said.

Having a large group of veterans helps when it comes to keeping the younger players on task, especially during the first semester.

Knowing the start of the season is months away can affect the players’ focus, but Ray said his team leaders make sure everyone is giving it their all at practice.

“The farther you’re out from the first game the harder it is to motivate. When you have some older girls who have been through the grind they model it and the younger girls pick up on that,” Ray said.

Offseason workouts can vary, but as the squad transitions into preseason workouts the main points of emphasis will be getting the team as a whole ready.

More team oriented drills and less individual work will become the norm as the players prepare for the beginning of the season.

Ray said the most important aspect will be getting his hitters and pitchers “live” reps, meaning everyone is going full speed to try and emulate a game’s intensity.

Ray said the ”live” portion of the practices would begin approximately three weeks before the start of the season.

“Hitters seeing live pitching, pitchers pitching live to batters, defensive situations, a lot more team stuff. Individual stuff you try to fit in, but you’re trying to get the team ready to play,” Ray said.

Not only is Ray getting his players physically ready to be successful, but the mental aspect of softball is something the athletes work on constantly as well.

There are drills and activities meant to improve the players’ ability to handle pressure and make the correct play.

With the game on the line Ray wants to make sure his athletes have the necessary tools to be successful and approach the situation with a clear head.

Baseball is a team sport, but it includes a lot of individual battles the Lady Hornets want to be able to win when the time comes.

“That’s something we have is an element of mental development and training even in offseason. We’ve been doing activities to help players individually identify their strengths and weakness and that translates into that one on one,” Ray said.