Lions growing up in first softball season

Mar. 15, 2014 @ 01:19 PM

 The King’s Academy’s new softball team has taken some shots in the first week of the regular season.

But Lions coach Marc Weekly said it’s all part of the learning process.

“We knew this year we’d have some growing pains about the girls learning to play the game again,” Weekly said after a 6-4 loss to Gatlinburg-Pittman on Thursday. “We’re right where we need to be. If we could’ve started off a little faster, things could’ve been a little different.”

TKA has played well at opposite ends of the scorebook in this first week. The Lions allowed Bearden to rally for a 2-1 win in the season opener on Tuesday but it was TKA that was trying to rally against the Highlanders. The Lions squandered seven baserunners in the first two innings before finally coming alive with a pair of two-run singles in the sixth and seventh innings. They had the winning run at the plate in the seventh before G-P pitcher Kelsey Henry ended the game with a strikeout. Those close calls don’t bother Weekly. His team was in both games and, more importantly, his lineup littered with eighth, ninth and 10th graders has gotten experience in tough game situations.

“I don’t think there’s anything better than real, live situations,” said Mandy Huffman who scored and drove in two runs on Thursday after striking out in her first two at-bats. “You can practice different situations all the time. There’s nothing like coming down to the real thing. It’s like, ‘Here’s the stress. Learn it. Deal with it.’ I think it’s good.”

Weekly said he was also pleased with how pitcher Haven Taylor has started out.

She struck out 15 against Bearden before returning to the circle Thursday while battling a stomach virus.

Taylor still struck out 16 G-P batters. “She’s a competitor,” Weekly said. “She’s a warrior. She’ll play at the next level some day.”

Taylor kept TKA’s hopes alive by escaping jams in the sixth and seventh, forcing the Highlanders to strand three runners over that stretch. The Lions couldn’t complete the comeback at the plate but Huffman said the day is coming soon when they will able to win games like this.

“It feels good to get back in it, knowing we can come back up after such a tough first two innings,” Huffman said. “Honestly, just wait until you see us.

We’re not going to have any more rough-start games. We’re going to have full games, full aggression the whole time.”