After starting the Fall 2012 season at 7-6, the Macks Creek Lady Pirates saw the proverbial wheels fall off as they dropped seven of their last eight to finish at 8-13. Despite the finish, the girls were able to collect a two-seed in their MSHSAA District tournament.
"Last season ended on a bit of a sour note for us," commented Coach Jason Trusty, "we don't look at it as a negative, but as a positive. It shows that we are not at the level that we want to be at, and that should drive us to be better this year." Coach Trusty is beginning his third year at the helm of the Lady Pirates. Overall, the squad has posted an 18-25 record during this time. Tara Mashburn is also returning as his assistant. This season will be a different one for the team, as last season they said good-bye to four-year letter men Allisyn Carnahan, Brandy Foster, and Krissa Willis. Also gone are utility player Breanna Taylor and first baseman/flex hitter Ashleigh Bryner. Carnahan had been the starting pitcher since her freshman year, while Foster and Willis had handled the catching duties and short stop position, respectively, for the last four as well. "Its hard to replace a battery that had as much chemistry as Ali and Brandy," said Trusty, "Willis will be missed defensively. Taylor played all over the outfield last season and Bryner helped provide a bat off the bench." This season will be a new start for the team, with a lot of returning players that will be playing at different positions. Audrey Whalen and Miriah Collins are the lone Seniors this Fall. Whalen will split time in the outfield and behind the plate while Collins will work mainly at second, but could also see some time in the outfield as well. They are also the team captains for the squad. "These two Seniors have been hard workers for the last four years. They've endured the ups and downs that each season has brought and are eager to achieve new heights for this season," added Trusty. Returning starters for the Lady Pirates include Junior letter men Juli Hix and Sophomore letter men Jaci Hix, along with two, two-year letter men, Sydnee Daugherty and Morgan Mashburn. Juli manned first base last season and will continue to do so, Daugherty is shifting from second base to third, Mashburn will move from third to the circle, where she will share pitching and short stop duties with Sophomore Jaci Hix, who is making the move from the outfield. Also, being inserted into the lineup for the first time are Junior outfielders Haley Linton and Bryttanee Owens, along with catcher/utility player Micah Schmidt. A newcomer to the starting lineup is Sophomore Faith Manning, who will work primarily as a utility/flex player in the lineup. As stated before, Mashburn and Jaci will be the primary pitchers this season. Both had a chance last year to collect some Varsity innings, but this Fall will be the first time that they will be used for a larger part of the season in that role.
"I'm excited for the possibilities that these two bring. They've been working hard over the summer to develop their abilities and I am eager to see how this 1-2 punch works in a game setting," said Coach Trusty.
Also returning from last year's squad are Juniors Hayley Brown, Cheyann McGuire, and Micaela Ullrich. Newcomers this year include Junior Brooke Hussey, Sophomores Vanessa Cortez, Cheyene Hayes, Sabrina Lafferty, Collette VonSande, and Bethany Willey; Freshmen include Adrienne Mitchell and Alexis Supitilov. "We started with 26 girls two weeks ago and dropped to 21 at the end of that first week," said Trusty, "we have quite a few that are going to push and help to make us better overall as a squad."
For the last few weeks the Lady Pirates have been working on building a chemistry with each other on the defensive side of things. Having so many players playing at new spots can be challenging, but Coach Trusty says the girls have really responded to the challenge. "Anytime you shift people around and move them to new positions you are going to have a bit of a learning curve, but I really think that these girls have worked hard and are really starting to put things together as a group on the infield." The outfield will have a makeover as well. Two of the three returners are now on the infield, which opens playing time for new players to step into and contribute at the Varsity level. "I'm really excited at the fact we have multiple girls that can play multiple positions. It definitely makes things competitive among the girls, and keeps me on my toes as a coach as well," added Trusty. Senior Miriah Collins echoes her coach, saying, "We have a very athletic team that can play many different spots. I'm excited to keep building off of what we've accomplished in past years." Offensively the Lady Pirates should be quicker this season on the base paths, with a mixture of power in there as well. The squad should be able to be a lot more aggressive on balls in the gap and put the ball in play on a consistent basis. They do have some hidden power, as some girls have shown a tendency to drive the ball hard to the gaps or up the middle during practices. If a person were to look for a strength, you could ask any number of the girls. "We have so much heart and we are always there to pick each other up," says Junior Juli Hix. Juniors Sydnee Daugherty and Morgan Mashburn have the same ideas when it comes to goals and strengths. Mashburn says, "I think my team's biggest strength is that we are constantly pushing each other to make not only the team, but ourselves better," while Daugherty says a goal is, "for us to come closer as the season goes so that our chemistry is better with each game." Senior Audrey Whalen also adds, "One of our goals is to come together with each game and know that we gave 100% each night. Also, the way we work together is a huge factor towards the amount of games that we could win this season, as well as prepare us for the District tournament when it comes." "These girls are eager to play, eager to learn, and eager to compete. They've shown a lot of bonding in just the first few weeks of the season, and I really feel that this is going to be a characteristic that will make us that much stronger once the heart of the season and Districts gets here." Whatever the season may bring, the Lady Pirates are ready to face what is set in front of them.