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PRC softball ready to make a run at the district title

Pearl River Central’s Lady Blue Devils softball team has been hard at work the past couple of months to prepare for the start of the season.

The Lady Blue Devils won’t have to wait much longer since the team will take part in a jamboree on Saturday that will include games against Harrison Central and George County.

PRC started holding after school practices Jan. 27 and the increased time on the field has allowed the team to hone in on specific aspects of the game.

Head Coach Tony Labella said having more practice time has benefitted the team as they can be more detail oriented and spend extra time on things that need to be fixed.

“We’ve done a lot more of everything. It’s one of those things where you can tackle more than one objective each practice because you don’t have to rush it as much,” Labella said.

Weather has hampered the team’s ability to get on the field every day for practice, but Labella said his players are hard working and dedicated to improving no matter the situation.

There are a decent amount of seniors on the squad, so they’ve been in charge of helping the younger players adapt to life as a varsity softball player.

The pitching staff for the Lady Blue Devils includes a sophomore and two eighth graders, which means the jamboree games will be a chance for Labella to measure their development.

“It’ll be good to gauge where they are. We use these (jamborees) for evaluation,” Labella said.

The younger players also have to become familiar with the lingo and signs used by the varsity team.

The added complexity can be a lot to handle, which is why having experienced players on the squad can help ease the transition.

Either way, Labella will sit all of his players down prior to the start of the season and make sure there aren’t any athletes unfamiliar with the team’s strategies.

“Later this week we’ll make sure everybody understands exactly what this is. With newer players we want to make sure they’re on the same page,” Labella said.

The early season schedule for PRC won’t be a cakewalk since several of the team’s opponents are expected to provide stiff competition.

It’s a purposeful choice by Labella to test his team early.

Labella said he’d rather go into district with a poorer record while understanding the team’s weaknesses, than face off against district opponents with a false sense of confidence.

“Better to know our weaknesses now than when we play Long Beach or Picayune. Sometimes you can be 6-0 and not feel like you are where you need to be,” Labella said.

There are still some question marks personnel wise for the team heading into the season.

A few players are injured and multiple athletes are still fulfilling their requirements with the basketball team as it heads into the postseason.

That uncertainty will lead to some inconsistency when it comes to setting the lineup, but Labella said with time he’ll know the right combination of players to field.

“We’ll be playing a couple different lineups to see what our best lineup is. That lineup will change a bunch as people get healthy,” Labella said.