By Joel Coleman
Sarah Moss isn't much for bragging on herself.
If she was, the Ackerman 7th-grader would have had plenty of reason to boast after her performance from the pitching circle against Starkville on Friday night.
Moss pitched a complete game, surrendered just one hit and struck out eight to lead the Lady Indians to an 8-2 road victory over the Lady Yellowjackets.
"(Moss) had good control of a couple of pitches and was really able to keep hitters off balance," said Ackerman head coach Mike Brown. "(Starkville) was able to put it in play a few times, but for the most part did minimal damage."
The lone hit Moss surrendered was a second-inning, inside-the-park home run off the bat of Starkville's Shareda Brown.
Brown's round-tripper actually accounted for the Lady Jackets' second run after Jonissa Buchanan came around to score in the first inning after taking the only walk Moss issued all game.
While falling victim to Starkville's early offense, Moss found herself as the beneficiary of some early runs herself.
Ackerman (3-1) put up three runs in the top of the first as Dayna Presley, Sarah Bowles and Haley Lucas each reached base to begin the contest before scoring to put the Lady Indians up 3-0.
Starkville (0-5) was able to answer with Buchanan's run in the home half of the first but the Lady Indians stretched their advantage to 5-1 in the second with a run-scoring single from Bridgette Robinson that plated Vanessa Miller, and a RBI ground out from Lucas that scored Robinson.
Brown connected for her homer in the bottom of the second to cut Starkville's deficit to 5-2, but that was all the offense the Lady Jackets could muster off of Moss.
"I was just throwing and wasn't nervous," said Moss. "You just have to do what you have to do. It's easy when your team is backing you."
While Ackerman was able to score just three runs the rest of the way, it was plenty to hold off a Starkville team that had seen offensive success against the Lady Indians earlier in the week.
On Monday, the Lady Jackets traveled to Ackerman and came up short in a 6-5 loss.
Unlike their previous encounter, Starkville head coach Mimi Milling said her team simply couldn't muster the runs to keep pace with the Lady Indians. Frustrating the Lady Jackets head coach even further was seeing what she called some "unsportsmanlike" actions from her team during the course of Friday's game.
"Our bats just weren't on," said Milling. "But what disappointed me the most was some of our attitudes. We've got to realize that when we're out on the field, we're representing this town. We're representing Starkville."
Adding to the doldrums was the result of the contest itself which sent Starkville into a season-opening five-game losing streak.
Yet Milling says neither herself, nor her team is deterred by the early struggles.
"We're calling these first few games our preseason," said Milling. "We're going to put this behind us and the real season starts after spring break when we start district play."
Starkville isn't alone when it comes to dealing with early-season adversity.
Ackerman is currently facing injuries to several key players, not to mention the lingering mental effects of last month's bus accident in Calhoun County that claimed the lives of football coach Steven Moss and teacher Phyllis Graham.
"Three players off this team were on those buses," said Brown. "But we've been hanging in there emotionally and everybody has been playing well together."
Brown hopes his team can keep up their good work today as the Lady Indians will play in a pair of games at the East Webster Tournament.
Ackerman will face East Webster at 10:30 a.m. before battling Nanih Waiya at 1:30 p.m.
Starkville returns to action on March 22 with its first district game at 6 p.m. in Columbus.