Starkville Christian softball coach Greg Carlisle was glad to see the sun shining and the field dry for a Tuesday afternoon practice at the Starkville Sportsplex.
In getting a team ready for the slow-pitch softball season this spring, good weather hasn't always greeted the Lady Cougars for their workouts.
Carlisle has a roster filled with underclassmen so getting outside for practice when possible has been important.
Starkville Christian's varsity lost a 15-2 decision in its first game at Central Academy Monday night and Carlisle believes some of the errors his squad made on defense could be eliminated with more preparation.
"These girls just had not played games together and have had only about a month of practice," Carlisle said. "Actually (Monday night) and (Tuesday) are the first two days we've been on a dry field in a month so we've done what we could to get ready. Now that we are playing games, that's the best practice we could possibly get."
Carlisle is excited about getting the SCS softball program off the ground, but knows it's going to be a process.
Along with trying to teach the players a competitive nature that can be taken into other aspects of their lives, Carlisle also wants to help develop Christian values throughout the team and be a mentor to the younger players.
There are only three senior Lady Cougars in Rachel Witbeck, Keally Fulgham and Ashley Parrott. The rest of the roster is made up of sophomores and younger.
"There are a lot of younger girls who are trying it for the first time," Carlisle said. "I've got some 4th and 5th grade girls who keep asking when they can try out for the softball team. That's a group that played with the park in the Starkville summer league so they are experienced.
"I'm really excited about the thought of having enough girls to have an older group that's played a few years and a younger group that's excited about it and enough where they may get involved with some league teams in the park and play a little bit more. By the time they get to high school, they'll be a little more experienced."
As a senior, Witbeck looks forward to helping Carlisle establish something that will last for SCS softball.
"Most of these players are young and haven't played before, but are doing really well for their first time," Witbeck said. "It's cool how the team sticks together and helps each other out even though we might have a bad game.
"It's about building a team and getting them to grow up. Hopefully, we'll develop really good skills and sportsmanship."
Offensively, Carlisle likes the lineup and believes the Lady Cougars can be solid hitting the softball.
"They look confident when they get up to the plate," Carlisle said. "I feel pretty good about our offense and the fact we'll be able to manufacture a few runs."
Carlisle is bringing along Heather Koehn, one of two 7th graders, in the circle as a pitcher.
Against Central Academy, Carlisle was encouraged by the way Koehn threw strikes and only walked two batters.
Starkville Christian opened with Central Academy and play its first home game of the season today against Kemper Academy. Carlisle is excited to send the Lady Cougars out against another established program.
"Our girls have softball for about two months out of the year as opposed to girls playing 11 months out of the year with the teams we are playing," Carlisle said. "(Teams like Central Academy and Kemper Academy) play fast-pitch softball in the fall, practice all winter, then play slow-pitch in the spring and play travel ball over the summer.
"These girls are seeing with Central and with Kemper some good softball and that's what I want to expose them to and see what they can learn from that."