VHS finds success as older teammates show young players the ropes

Published 9:07 am Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Having a balanced mix of experienced and fresh-faced players on Vicksburg High’s softball team will help keep it intact for the future.

The Missy Gators slow-pitch roster breaks down to seven seniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.

Although this might be a special year for the seniors, assistant coach Brian Ellis wants it to be a special one for the underclassmen as well. Vicksburg is 5-5 and in contention for the Region 3-5A/6A championship heading into tonight’s home game against Warren Central. The game will begin at 6:15 p.m.

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“Our younger girls understand that so they’re playing hard and practicing hard to help us win this year. Year in and year out we want to win. Our goal every year is to make the playoffs. We want to bring Vicksburg High a state championship,” said Ellis, who is the head coach of Vicksburg’s fast-pitch team but an assistant during the fall slow-pitch season.

Since the younger players are still learning different aspects of the game, having a talented group of experienced players around is a big benefit.

Freshmen Kelsey Lockridge and Markayla Chiles both enjoy the energy and spirit the seniors bring to the team. Lockridge said she has put her attitude in check thanks to the mentoring of seniors.

“In seventh grade, my attitude wasn’t all that good and the seniors help you a lot. They’re not going to yell at you but they’ll help you a lot more. You have to take the criticism in a good way,” Lockridge said.

In the future she hopes she can help her teammates the same way and return the favor to other underclassmen. Lockridge started playing varsity in the eighth grade and has become a reliable first baseman.

Chiles loves how funny her senior teammates are and how they keep practices light and entertaining. Because of them, Chiles said she’s learned to listen to what they say since they’re usually right, and to never quit.

She hopes that when the current seniors leave, it doesn’t bring the dynamic of the team down but pushes them to be better players.

Over the years, Chiles wants to better herself as a softball player by getting faster and hitting harder. She hopes to accomplish her goals with the help of coaches Ellis and Michelle Fisackerly.

“They’re not like other coaches, they’ll explain things to you. They’re very good coaches,” Chiles said.

Seniors Olivia Oakes and Mya’h Wright both said it’s uplifting to see talented underclassmen and what they can do for the future of the team.

Ellis said the relationship between the experienced and younger players is pretty good and has preached a team mentality to the Missy Gators. Oakes and Wright added that there are no negative attitudes on the team; they have a lot of potential and all work hard.

Wright has shown younger players how to get their arms through the ball and hustle. Oakes has worked with the girls on having heart.

Oakes remembers what it feels like to be a freshman playing varsity and understands where they can become nervous in certain situations.

“It was intimidating because you had all these older girls looking over you and you had a lot of pressure on you,” Oakes said.

The seven seniors have been pretty vocal about teaching underclassmen about communication on the field and being loud.

“Our field here gets very, very loud and if you’re not communicating it doesn’t work. They helped them instill that and what’s expected to be a part of our softball program,” Ellis said.

Up next

Today, 6:15 p.m.

Warren Central at Vicksburg