By DANNY P. SMITH
Starkville fastpitch softball coach Mimi Milling believes she has an improved team this season.
After three games, the Lady Yellowjackets have yet to show it.
The Caledonia Lady Confederates had nine hits, but it was the nine errors committed by the Starkville defense that hurt the most as the Lady Jackets lost a 15-2 decision to the visitors from Lowndes County.
"It was just mental and physical errors," Milling said. "We're a good team, but we just don't show it when we come out to play. We practice and practice great. We know what to do, but when we get out here, we just freeze. After one mistake, they put their head down. That's our biggest problem."
Milling has been trying to send the message to her squad that things are different for it this season and has tried to take a positive approach moving forward.
"I'm seeing something this year that I didn't see last year," Milling said. "There's so much athleticism on this team that all we need to do is bring it together. I see that, but I know nobody else does and says 'oh, Starkville High is losing again,' but we're not. We're a different ball club this year. We really are."
Caledonia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning without the help of a base hit, but Starkville came back to get a run in the first to cut the margin in half. Jonissa Buchanan walked, moved around the bases on ground ball outs by Reonee' Clark and T'Keyia Davis, and came across the plate on a wild pitch.
That's when Lady Confederates pitcher Cara Hopper settled down and ended up striking out six-straight Lady Jackets. She finished with 10 strikeouts.
"She started out slow in the first inning, but got in a groove, really started throwing the ball well and was hitting her spots," Caledonia coach Robin Elmore said.
Blaire Ruth followed Hopper to the circle and collected five more strikeouts.
The Lady Confederates increased their lead to 3-1 in the third inning and broke the game open with six runs in the fourth frame.
Getting experience was something Elmore was hoping to see in a blowout situation for the Lady Confederates.
"We need to get some other players some playing time," Elmore said.
Starkville scored its final run in the seventh inning when D'Kyra Robinson reached on an error, went to second base as Sasha Shurden was hit by a pitch and advanced to third and home on wild pitches.
The only two hits for the Lady Jackets was a third-inning single by Buchanan and a sixth-inning double by Jadee Sexton.
Starkville (0-3) travels to Ackerman on Friday for its next action.