Starkville Academy's Mary Austin Barber's senior year on the diamond has been one filled with a lot of emotion and opportunities for her to lead and teach.
The Lady Volunteers fell 13-2 to Heritage Academy Tuesday afternoon at Lady Volunteer Field.
Barber started in the circle for the Lady Vols and saw a 7th grader play in her usual shortstop spot.
Milla Davis got the start in the 6-hole and Barber knows how tough it can be to start in such an important position at such a young age.
"I try to help (Davis), but we haven't practiced lately because we have been playing a lot," Barber said. "She has been practicing everywhere. I know it can get confusing as a 7th grader because I did it."
Barber hasn't pitched this much in a season for a while. Last season Julianne Jackson got much of the work in the circle, but this year head coach Kayla Mosley has used several options on the mound.
She has also shuffled her lineup and defensive alignment. She felt comfortable with Davis at shortstop, who had a couple of errors but did make some routine plays.
"She has stepped up and been the best for the job from what I've seen through our practices," Mosley said. "More experienced girls around her have to pick her up and take that responsibility to talk to her."
For Starkville Academy, the game was in its reach in the second inning, but a misplayed fly ball in the outfield allowed three runs to score and made the score 6-1 heading to the bottom of the second inning.
"We made an error in the outfield and they cleared the bases," Mosley said. "One error cost us three runs, but that one error is not what decided the ballgame. We still had a chance after that."
The Lady Vols had a promising start to the bottom of the first inning, but only managed one run. With one out, catcher Adrienne Futral reached on an infield single. She then stole second and scored on a passed ball.
Lauren Ware doubled up the middle in the inning.
Futral again reached on an infield single in the third inning and was brought home by Ware's single to right field.
"Adrienne got on two times in front of her and Lauren came up huge with two big hits," Mosley said. "She is seeing the ball well. She has seen the ball well all season long. She has hit the ball hard all year long."
The Lady Patriots added seven more runs in the third inning to ensure a victory.
Barber who batted leadoff, was 0-for-2, but didn't get cheated. She led off the bottom of the first with a hard hit ball to shortstop, but the girl was able to field it and throw her out.
Barber batted first in the third inning and sent a line drive to center field, but the outfielder didn't have to move very far and slid under it to get her out.
"I did that (Monday at Jackson) Prep too," Barber said. "I hit it right at people. They didn't even have to move. It's just irritating."
The Lady Vols are back in action this Saturday when they travel to the EMCC tournament in Scooba.