PCHS girls team grows on, off field

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, May 26, 2015

After traveling to Gulf Shores for regionals, the Pike County High School softball team came back empty handed, but not without learning something.

Head coach Fawn Sims said she was extremely proud of the way her girls played in their losses against Opp and Excel during that tournament. More important, she is proud of the team’s growth.

This was Sims first year with the Bulldogs and said despite their 8-16 record for the season, the girls had grown tremendously from where they had been when she first started coaching them.

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“Communication was our biggest thing that we grew,” Sims said. “Once we got that down pat, we were solid. It took us a while to understand why constant communication was so important. It took a while to understand and see what they do at practice, but once they did, I would accredit it to great kids that brought a drive every day. It was a good mindset for them to have.”

Sims said she watched the girls grow not only on the field, but also off the field knowing they could come to any of the three coaches for advice on anything.

“I was proud that they came to me about more than just softball stuff,” Sims said. “They asked if they had homework they needed help on. I’m always proud of them, and they know that. They always have someone to come to, whether it is me, Coach Driggers or Sgt. Young.”

Sims said the team progressed so far hat team members were often the ones who started practice drills and ran them instead of the coaches.

“Seeing them take the initiative to do what they have to do because they know it had to be done,” was an “ah-ha” moment, she said. “There were a few times during pregame routines they would take it on their own. I hope they transition that to the classroom.”

For two of the Bulldogs, however, the losses against Opp and then again against Excel weren’t just the end of a season, it was the end of a high school softball career. Sims, like any high school coach, said it was hardest to watch the end of the season for seniors. “There were a lot of tears shed at the end of the game,” she said.

Sims said her two seniors had become the team’s biggest and strongest leaders and that the girls next year had big shoes to fill.

“Everyone improved in their own way,” Sims said. “But, S’hanna Lee, she just had a very explosive season. She did amazing things. She’s talked to two more college coaches, so she can pretty much pick where she wants to go. Keri Taylor went down fighting. They wanted to go out showing their team why they were there. Everyone improved in some form or fashion. I think the ones who are the strongest players will show themselves as time goes on.”

But, for the juniors and underclassmen left behind, Sims said she has hope for the team members left behind.

“We won more games this year than they did last year,” Sims said. “We learned how to compete, and they are stronger than they used to be. We have a lot of young athletes coming back. They have a lot to learn, but they’re coming back so we’re looking forward to keep moving and progressing.”

Many of the girls are double athletes playing more than just softball, and Sims said the remaining team members were going to start practicing earlier and harder for the next season.

“I look forward to the future,” Sims said. “The future is so bright for us, and it’s just going to be an uphill slope for us. I’m excited about the future and what we can bring to the team. I’m in the process of trying to find some travel teams for some of my girls right now. Just working on getting them some exposure. They’re going to be doing stuff all the through the summer. They’re all excited to come back out and work hard to go back to regionals.”