McGivney led WC to great heightsPublished 12:00am Sunday, June 1, 2014
At the end of 7-6 playoff loss to Grenada that ended Warren Central’s season, coach Dana McGivney stood doubled over near the pitcher’s circle, with her hands on her knees and her head down.
It was one of the few times all season she and the Lady Vikes had anything to be distraught about.
Warren Central finished the season with a 20-6 record, its best in nine years. It won its first 10 games, and 14 of its first 15. With all but two starters returning, it seemed the successful season was WC’s first step toward challenging the state’s elite programs, and it earned McGivney The Vicksburg Post’s softball Coach of the Year award.
It’s the second consecutive year McGivney has won the award, and the fourth time in six years.
“It was probably the best year I’ve had since I’ve been here. Best year I’ve had as a head coach, even though obviously it didn’t end as we would have liked. It’s a good building thing for next year,” McGivney said.
Warren Central had a winning record in 2013, but McGivney said the seeds for this year’s breakthrough campaign were sowed the following summer. A sense of friendly competition and camraderie among the players helped create a deep roster that was able to hold its own against nearly anyone.
One of WC’s losses was a 14-2 blowout against Northwest Rankin, and another was in a tournament against Greenville-St. Joe in which the junior varsity saw most of the playing time.
None of the other four losses were by more than three runs. The two playoff losses to Grenada were both by one run.
“It seemed to be a little more relaxed this season. I don’t know what the difference was,” McGivney said. “It started last year, with some of the things we did at the end of summer. We had a good time last summer, then we just built on that through slow-pitch and then into fast-pitch.”
The good news for McGivney and the Lady Vikes is they’ll be able to learn from their experience. Only three seniors — starters Lexi Burleigh and Grace Franco, and reserve Skylar Blades — are graduating, and there’s only four juniors on next year’s roster.
A number of others, such as Player of the Year Brooke Patterson, designated hitter Jordan Lee and third baseman Megan Stewart, are underclassmen.
That strong core should mean the Lady Vikes will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
“We’re still a pretty young group, so we have a lot to look forward to,” McGivney said.