By JOEL COLEMAN
For weeks, the Starkville Academy softball team has been plagued by offensive struggles.
On Wednesday, the Lady Volunteers busted loose.
Hosting Heritage Academy, SA used a big third inning as a springboard for a mercy-rule shortened, 11-0 win over the Lady Patriots.
It was a sight Lady Vols head coach Kayla Mosley was proud to see.
"We've struggled getting people across the plate," said Mosley. "I think the most we've scored in the past six or seven games was one run. So to get this, that feels really good. Hopefully, our girls will have some confidence after (Wednesday) that will carry over throughout the rest of the season."
It didn't take long for SA (12-14, 4-8 in conference play) to take the advantage over Heritage and get things rolling.
After Megan Picard walked with one out in the first inning, Nikki Ford and Julianne Jackson followed with singles to load the bases.
Though Lauren Ware struck out for the second out of the frame, the Lady Vols pushed across a run when Adrienne Futral's grounder back to Heritage pitcher Allee Lowe was thrown away at first base.
The early score was a precursor of things to come for SA.
Sending 11 batters to the plate in the third inning, the Lady Vols pushed across seven runs with the highlight of the frame being Mary Austin Barber's three-run triple as Starkville Academy surged ahead 8-0.
Barber was glad her teammates and herself were able to mount such a rally after their recent woes at the plate.
"We hit the ball better (Wednesday) than we have been," said Barber. "This is our big confidence game and this is what we needed.
"It felt really good. We needed this and needed a lift from all those other games we've had."
SA was able to cement the win in the home half of the fourth. Jackson, Ware and Futral all scored in the inning and Megan Aucoin contributed a two-run double as the Lady Vols went up by 11.
Jackson followed by pitching a scoreless top of the fifth to end the game courtesy of the 10-run rule, boosting the spirits of the Lady Vols in the process.
"We've gotten down from not hitting and making errors here and there," said Barber. "We came back (Wednesday) though and that game really helped us out."
Barber and the Lady Vols will try to ride the momentum from the win over Heritage into today's 4 p.m. game at Kemper Academy.
Mosley is optimistic her squad can do just that.
"(The team) has been kind of down and out," said Mosley. "It's hard to break out of that. Especially when it's hitting you're talking about. For all of them to pretty much get out there and get a hit and score some runs, I know they're pumped up about it. I am too and I just hope it carries over."