By DANNY P. SMITH
The grass is green at Starkville High School's baseball field, but the growing process doesn't stop there.
It also pertains to the 2011 edition of the Yellowjackets.
Gone are R.J. Johnson, Chuck Tillery and other who contributed to last year's success for SHS so there will be some new faces for coach Danny Carlisle when the season opens today (5 p.m.) at home against Pearl.
In the preseason, Carlisle likes the preparation of his team.
"The kids have worked extremely hard to get where we are," Carlisle said. "We haven't had a lot of time outside, but the time we've had they've made the most of it.
"The attention span has been well for the most part. We've practiced longer than we have in the past."
Carlisle was able to give the public a sneak peak of what to expect this season as the Jackets hosted a jamboree last Saturday, bringing in Ackerman and East Webster.
In a pair of four-inning scrimmages, Starkville was able to edge Ackerman 3-1 and rally to top East Webster 4-2.
The Jackets were down to the Wolverines 2-1 in the final inning with two outs and nobody on base before the comeback.
"We were able to play a bunch of kids and saw some good things. We played defense well. We didn't hit the ball as well as I would have hoped, but we pitched it fairly good and only made one error in eight innings which is pretty good."
As far as offense, Carlisle said don't expect the power source similar to what Johnson and Tillery provided last year.
"We'll have to play small ball this year," Carlisle said. "We've got some guys that are capable of hitting the long ball occasionally, but not like R.J. and Chuck when they walk up to the plate and know you've got a chance."
It may be a new look for SHS, but Carlisle likes the possibilities of having a good team "if we stay and play as a team."
"It all depends on everyone doing their job and depending on everyone else to do their job," Carlisle said. "I like the team chemistry so far."
Carlisle is planning to send Shaquille Hill, a senior lefthander, to start on the mound today.