Lady Tigers hosting area tourneyPublished 2:26pm Friday, April 19, 2013
McKenzie School will celebrate a first on Tuesday.
That’s when the Lady Tigers will, according to head softball coach Ezell Powell, host the area tournament for the first time in school history.
McKenzie, Georgiana and J.U. Blacksher will square off in a double elimination tournament hosted by McKenzie. The top two teams will advance to go play in the regional tournament.
McKenzie earned the right to host the tournament by winning a tiebreaker with J.U. Blacksher based on area wins.
Powell said that his team’s consistency as of late gives him confidence going into the tournament.
“I tell my girls all the time that when they’re playing, I have 100 percent confidence in them,” Powell said. “When they’re on, they’re a very difficult softball team to beat. We’re just trying to put it together consistently. And as of late, I think they’re starting to get it and starting to put consistent games together, and it gives them a chance to win and compete in ball games.”
That confidence is a bond built over time, and Powell said it’s the tournament atmosphere that affords the opportunity to determine which players are hungry enough to get the job done.
Leadership from two constants, AJ Sanford and Daizia Womack, has been essential in inspiring the rest of the team to play at their best. But the biggest surprise for Powell has been the impressive play of a certain up-and-comer who has stepped up to the plate in more ways than one.
“Ashley Ballard has gotten into a rhythm and she’s starting to do some pretty good things for us,” Powell said. “She has become a third bat in a lineup that has been consistent for us over the last five or six ball games. That’s something that I wanted to see as we head into tournament time. Her presence at the plate has been a pleasant surprise and it’s one that we want her to keep up.”
Despite the level of success that the Lady Tigers have experienced, Powell insisted that there is still work to be done.
Eliminating mistakes and not giving up the big plays are two areas of focus as the team closes out the season. Consistent play — understanding the situation at the plate, moving base runners when necessary – and being in tune with the game are elements that are necessary for success in tournament play.
But Powell credits his players’ diligence and the community support most of all for his team’s success, and he hopes that the continued support is enough to take the Lady Tigers to even loftier heights.
“I’m excited about it, I think the community’s excited about our opportunity here,” Powell said. “We haven’t had an opportunity like this in a very long time, and everybody’s excited about the work that the girls have put in to get where we are.”