Belles look to surpass last season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It’s all about keeping things fresh for Buddy Mehaffey and the Dixie Belles tournament team.

With almost two weeks worth of practices under their belts, the head coach of the Troy team switched things up for his girls Tuesday evening.

Instead of working on the same hitting and fielding drills it had been doing since the team was formed, the girls found themselves doing fun activities in an attempt to help the girls stay more focused.

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But the girl’s focus seems to be right where it needs to be.

The team is coming off a weekend of warm-up games where it defeated its three opponents by a combined score of 47-3, and that is the kind of attitude the head coach said he hopes continues throughout the rest of the summer.

“These girls want to win pretty badly,” Mehaffey said Tuesday night during the team’s practice at the Troy Sportsplex.

“They have a winning mentality and are dedicated to doing everything they can to win.”

Part of the reason why the coach has seen this winning mentality is because of what nine of the 12 girls on the roster went through last summer.

Stephanie Finlayson, Hannah Fountain, Becca Hartley, Aliyah Holland, Olivia Hudson, Madison Mehaffey, Victoria Outlaw, Rachael Senn and Mary Margaret Starling were all a part of a Belles team that advanced to the State Tournament, which was furthest a team in that league from Troy had advanced.

The team was unable to advance past that round, but in defeat, the girls found motivation for this, their last season.

“We feel like we could have gone farther last season,” Hartley said.

“We didn’t do a lot of things right [last year] but this year, we feel like we have the group that can do it.”

One aspect that differentiates this team from last year’s team, according to Hartley, is the team’s ability to communication skills.

“Everything is much more out in the open this season,” she said.

“Last year, when things went bad, we didn’t talk and try to figure it out – and that didn’t help us.

“This year, we all know each other well and have been doing a better job of helping each other out,” Hartley added.

That desire to go further than ever before has also created a sense of urgency around the team, according to the coach.

“Each one of these girls has stepped up their game a little bit,” Mehaffey said.

“Each of the old girls want to be leaders and do their part to win, and the young girls are doing what they have to do as well.”

With the explosive offensive showing this past weekend, Madison Mehaffey believes the team set a bar of how to play the rest of the summer.

“I feel like it was kind of a statement weekend for us,” she said.

“We did a great job of focusing on what we had to do. This team is ready for these tournaments, and that is why I think this team is better than last year’s team.”

The Belles will open up Sub-District play in Eufaula this weekend.