Retooling VHS trying to iron defensive kinks

Published 10:00 am Friday, June 20, 2014

Warren Central's Lawren Boolos slides in safely past Vicksburg catcher Shelby Muirhead Thursday at Lucy Young Field. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central’s Lawren Boolos slides in safely past Vicksburg catcher Shelby Muirhead Thursday at Lucy Young Field. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

The summer high school season is more about player development than results. Even so, once in a while, there’s still an outcome that prompts some head-shaking and a long postgame talk in the outfield.

The Vicksburg Missy Gators committed eight errors Thursday — four of them in the first inning — and lost 13-0 to Warren Central.

It was a disappointing loss for a team that is 0-4 in its limited summer schedule, but had been competitive in its first three games.

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“This is our worst game, by far. We’ve been competitive with everybody we’ve played. Tonight we just went backward on softball 101. We’ve got to get that fixed,” Vicksburg coach Brian Ellis said.

Part of Vicksburg’s problems stemmed from a young and reshuffled lineup. Only three starters are returning from last season, and the losses include pitchers Faith Thomas and Chandler Ellis. One of the returning starters, Olivia Oakes, is moving from first base to pitcher.

Oakes did well on Thursday. All of Warren Central’s runs were unearned, and most of the balls it hit early on were relatively weak pop-ups and grounders.

Behind her, however, the shaky defense undid a lot of her work.

In the first inning, WC’s Sarah Kate Smith laid down a bunt with a runner on first. The throw to first base was wild, as was another throw to second as Smith tried to advance.

Brooke Patterson scored from first as Smith circled the bases. The Missy Gators had one last chance to throw Smith out at the plate, but the throw from the outfield was high and she slid safely into home.

“In three innings we had two outs and nobody on, and they scored eight runs. Right there, if you take away some of the errors that started the rallies and just make the routine plays, then this is a 2-0, 4-0 ballgame,” Ellis said.

While Ellis had an extended postgame talk to his team in right field at Lucy Young Field, Warren Central quickly and happily packed up and headed home at the end of a long day.

A three-hour practice Tuesday morning was followed in the afternoon by an 8-2 win in the junior varsity game and the 13-0 romp by the varsity.

The Lady Vikes improved to 4-0-1 this summer, with two games left next week against Pearl and Puckett. It’s been a successful month for the program, which is coming off its best regular season in nearly a decade and is only losing three seniors.

“We’re just trying to build on last season and then work with our new kids and get them to understand where we’re going and what our focus is on. Which is playing team ball and fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals,” WC coach Dana McGivney said.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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