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Lady Tiger youth provides promise

The Lady Tigers look for next year to be a better one. The team will only lose two seniors. The Lady Tigers completed the 2017 season with 10 wins and 11 loses. Journal Photo/Shayla Terry

By: Scott McLendon

Luverne High School closed its softball season with a mixed bag of results. This young team saw tremendous triumphs and devastating defeats throughout their 10-11 season.

“The season didn’t go as well as we would have wanted it to,” said Jason Easterling, head coach of the Luverne High School softball team.

“We under-achieved in some spots and didn’t hit the ball as well as we did out of the cage. Our biggest problem to start the year was defense; we were making errors left and right. Once we got that figured out, we just couldn’t hit. So that was, I guess, our biggest issue down the stretch; we just couldn’t score enough runs to win the ball games.”

The Tigers lost nine games by a margin of at least five points. Seven wins were notched by at least the same margin.

“We won some close ones down the stretch that I was very pleased with,” said Easterling. “You need a certain mindset that you need in those games to win. We just need to regroup and focus on us to get better mentally. We have been pushing the girls recently on the mental game.

“Moving forward I feel like we have a lot to be excited about. Next year, we hope to get Jayla June back who was our defensive MVP in 2016, but she was hurt this year with an ACL tear. Hopefully she’ll be back next year, barring anything else happening to her. We’ll be able to get her back next year with the pieces we’ve built defensively this year. We had a seventh grader named Indya Johnson playing shortstop for us who was just huge and has a great glove. She’ll be returning next year as well as another seventh grader, Aniyah Burnett, who filled multiple roles including pitcher.”

The age disparity proved an obstacle at times during the season, but the young team also pulled off impressive wins against mostly older competition.

“We had two seventh graders playing varsity along with two eighth graders, that’s where we are,” said Easterling. “We are a very young team and we’ll have to continue to improve mentally about the game and physically. We’ll be okay; we just need to learn how to play a complete game. We would play three innings really hard and be after it and in the game. After those three innings, it was like someone stuck a needle in a balloon and we’d fall flat. That’s something you can’t have; you have to play the entire game. The older we get and moreseasoned we get as a team, we’ll be fine.”