Starkville High slowpitch softball coach Lisa Spencer readily admits last year was a struggle for the Lady Yellowjackets.
Beginning today with SHS's season-opening tournament in Houston, the fifth-year Lady Jackets head coach hopes to set the stage for a rebound season.
"Last season was kind of a rebuilding year for us because we lost five seniors in key positions from the year before," said Spencer.
Starkville, anchored by the experience of nine seniors, is no longer going through the growing pains of 2009.
It's for that reason, SHS is looking for big things in 2010.
"We have said this should be the year of the Lady Jackets," said Spencer. "That's what we're expecting."
For Spencer's proclamation to occur, she says the recipe is simple. Starkville must rely on the glove work of a talented core of defenders, particularly in the outfield.
"Defense should definitely be our strength," said Spencer.
Among the Lady Jackets in the swarming outfield mix is Jonissa Buchanan, Reonee Clark, Tiyuana Ringo, Rhondalyn Johnson, and TiKeyia Davis. Spencer says any combination of these girls have the ability to track down balls and end rallies with their strong defensive play.
Spencer hopes that is the case today as SHS looks to start off on a strong note.
"We hope it all starts with a win (today)," said Spencer. "That would really, really help build everyone's confidence. It could set the tone for the entire season."
Having won a district title in 2007, Starkville isn't far removed from a standout campaign. That's why Spencer and the Lady Jackets have their goals set high this year.
"We want to go a step further than we did then," said Spencer. "(In 2007) we went to the North State playoffs and lost, but this year we want to be in Jackson in October. That's our goal."