Missy Gators host first college softball game in Vicksburg

Published 12:19 am Sunday, October 25, 2015

It took a community effort to help make history on the softball field of Vicksburg High.

The community came out and showed support for Jackson State, East Mississippi Community College, the Missy Gators players and coaches as they hosted the first ever college softball game in the city.

The Missy Gators arrived at 10 a.m. to prepare the field for exhibition. They stringed the cages, got balls to players at City Park so they could warm up and set up the concession stand.

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There were 18 different sponsors for the event from Hobie’s – who donated the softballs – to Entergy, McAlisters, Outlets of Vicksburg and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

“The police department and sheriff’s department jumped right in and patrolled the area. They were here at 8 o’clock this morning when the buses pulled up. Everybody’s helped out a bunch,” said Missy Gators coach Brian Ellis.

Once Ellis found out both schools had open dates in their fall schedule, he talked with them to see if they would be interested in playing an exhibition game.

“Coach Hugh and I felt like our field was capable of hosting a college game and that’s all it took,” Ellis said. “It’s an exciting day for us. It gave us an opportunity for our girls to see college softball at the next level.”

The Missy Gators have seven seniors on the roster including Jada Sims who enjoyed the advanced game speed of both teams, which made the exhibition interesting for her. She also picked up on techniques such as how the players ran the bases or how they would slide on their chests to catch a ball in the outfield.

After watching collegiate softball for the first time, Sims’ desire to play at the next level has increased.

“It’s strictly about business. Everyone is into the game and it’s no slacking, you can’t slack out there,” Sims said.

Sims’ mother, Felicia Williams said it was a great way for the program to raise money and for Sims to get a feel of softball at the next level.

Williams enjoyed the game between the Tigers and the Lions and was impressed with their athleticism.

“They’re really committed to what they’re doing,” Williams said.

Aside from the seniors, Ellis said it helped the underclassmen on the team see what it takes to play softball at the next level. He hopes the Missy Gators were able to see how college athletes handle similar in-game mistakes they’ve made in the past and learn how to correct them.

Ellis wants to continue hosting college exhibition games and said both coaches have told him they’re ready to come back next year.

He also wants to get a few more programs to come out and turn it into an all-day event with four or five games.

“Softball is an awesome game. When you bring in something like this, you’re not only bringing it into our school, but you’re bringing it into our community and restaurants and hotels,” Ellis said.