The Starkville Academy girls softball team has an early wake-up call today to begin its quest for a Class AAA-North championship and a spot in the state tournament.
The Lady Volunteers depart the school at 5:45 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. game against host Magnolia Heights School in Senatobia.
Starkville Academy coach Jessica Dickens said a game that early "will be different," but may not necessarily be a bad thing.
"I'm thinking it might be a good thing because we'll get them as soon as they wake up, have them all day and they won't have any other excuse for distractions," Dickens said.
Magnolia Heights stands as the No. 4 seed in the tournament, while the Lady Vols (18-10 overall, 4-3 in conference) come in at No. 5. SA lost a decision to Magnolia Heights earlier this season in a game that came right down to the wire.
Dickens knows that in order to beat Magnolia Heights at its home park and make a run in the tournament, it will take everyone being on the same page, especially defensively.
"We need to put together an error-free game defensively and hope that our sticks will come through for us as they usually have," Dickens said. "We can expect Julianne (Jackson) to be solid for us in the circle as she's done all season. There are a few things as far as the upper part of the batting order and pitching that we can usually count on. It's just the defensive mistakes that we've got to cut out in order to stay alive."
Dickens said one of the goals set at the beginning of the season was to reach the state tournament and send lone senior Bailey Wofford out on a winning note.
There's a finals of the winner's bracket and finals of the loser's bracket to be played in Saturday. The teams that make it to those games will automatically qualify for the state tournament.