The Starkville Academy fastpitch softball team may have to rely on young talent this year.
The Lady Volunteers open the season at home today against Oak Hill with varsity at 4 p.m. and junior varsity at 5:30 p.m.
SA head coach Kayla Mosley is not too concerned with her young players and is ready to meet the new season head on.
"I know we have a lot of learning to do and they know they have a lot of learning to do, but we've had a great three weeks of practice," Mosley said. "They have been working hard all summer long. I'm excited and I think we are all ready to tackle whatever comes our way."
The Lady Vols finished last season with a 16-19 record. In Mosley's second season, she is looking for a different result.
Many of her players have bought into her system and she has seen a lot of effort and dedication from her girls this summer.
"I've seen a lot improvement, both on the offensive and defensive ends," Mosley said. "These girls give up their summer to come out here and practice. They have worked very hard and have been very dedicated."
Many of Mosley's younger girls are 7th graders, so this is their first look at a varsity sport at Starkville Academy.
Mosley has seen a lot of effort from the 7th graders.
"For the (young girls), it's a big jump for them," Mosley said. "This is their first varsity sport and practice. That itself is something to get used to, but they've done great and they have worked hard."
Although SA may be young, there are a couple of veterans on the squad that Mosley will be looking to for a leadership role.
"Mary Austin Barber is looking good, but I wouldn't say that is stepping up because she has always played well," Mosley said. "She is continuing to improve her game."
The battery for the Lady Volunteers, may be the one aspect of the game that SA is excited about.
SA lost its pitcher, Julianne Jackson, from last year due to graduation so Mosley spent much of the summer looking for a pitcher, but the entire battery stepped up.
"Adrienne Futral is improving behind the plate, every practice it seems like," Mosley said. "Karlie Lockhart is pitching for us and she has been working hard. She has done a lot of pitching on her own. I have seen improvements everyday."
SA opens up with a familiar opponent. The West Point natives have several veterans, but several of young players as well.
Mosley is not overlooking Oak Hill to open the season.
"They are kind of heavy on both ends," Mosley said. "They have six seniors and about seven 7th graders. Oak Hill is always a competitive, scrappy team that knows how to play. We are expecting them to play some small ball. They are aggressive on the base paths. I think it will be a fun game and good one to open the season."
SA's opening week is a busy one.
Wednesday the Lady Vols play host to Pillow Academy at 2 p.m. varsity, and 3:30 p.m. junior varsity. They play another home game on Thursday when Central comes in for a 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. varsity/junior varsity match.
Starkville Academy ends the week with a game at the Starkville Sportsplex against East Rankin Academy on Saturday.