County softball teams ready to get back on the field

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 23, 2020

The prohibition of athletic activities by the Mississippi High School Activities Association is set to end June 1, which means county softball programs are getting ready to start summer practices.

Tentative plans are being made to make sure the athletes are able to develop during the summer workouts in a safe way.

Pearl River Central Softball

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Head Coach Tony Labella said under normal circumstances the team would participate in as many summer ball games as possible, but there’s still uncertainty if those games will even be possible due to state restrictions still in place.

Labella said because of the cancelled season the summer period will be more intense than previous years to make up for lost time.

“If rules allow, we’ll practice more this summer than we have before because we missed so much time. A lot of that is up in the air currently,” Labella said.

First priority for Labella and his athletes will be getting back into game shape.

While players were encouraged to work out at home, there’s only so much that can be done without proper facilities or access to a softball field.

Following the weeks of conditioning, fieldwork will take on more of an emphasis.

Labella said he called up several seventh and eighth grade players to get them some experience this past season.

However, the early cancellation of sports prevented that and now the athletes will have to try and get as many reps as possible during summer practices.

“I’m more concerned about (the middle school athletes) missing the junior varsity and middle school seasons because now those kids are going to be challenging for (varsity) spots,” Labella said.

It’s still uncertain what restrictions the MHSAA will have in place when activities are allowed to resume June 1, but whatever they are, Labella said his players will adapt and overcome.

The athletes have been waiting for months to play softball again and now the opportunity is fast approaching.

“Everybody is thinking about what’s best for the kids. The kids are itching to get out there. It’s the kids who want to work, but we’re just playing the waiting game (right now),” Labella said.

Poplarville Softball

Janessa Deckwa and the Lady Hornets softball team will host tryouts June 2 for any interested students who would like to join the team.

High school tryouts will begin at 9 a.m. with the middle school tryouts beginning at 12:30 p.m. the same day.

Deckwa said the tryouts will be broken down by position.

Infielders will field ground balls and go through a throwing drill to determine arm strength.

Outfielders will have to navigate a fly ball drill with a hitting segment also included in the practice where batters will face a handful of pitches from a pitching machine.

Lastly will be the tryout portion for pitchers and catchers where the athletes wanting to spend time at those positions will go through a variety of drills to determine each player’s skill level.

Following the tryouts will be a team meeting on June 4 where Deckwa and her staff will go over the team’s expectations not just for the summer, but also for fall workouts and the eventual start of the 2021 season.

The plan after the team meeting is still up in the air.

If summer games are allowed then the team will participate in as many as possible to try and regain some of what was lost with the cancelled season.

Deckwa said if summer ball isn’t allowed the practices will mainly focus on conditioning, weight lifting and some simple field drills.

There are still a lot of unknowns the program will have to navigate, but Deckwa has faith her program will come out the other side stronger than before.

“I think we have a really good foundation with our program as far as development goes. We’re going to start like we always do,” Deckwa said.