I haven’t talked to any Baldwyn softball players yet, but maybe they can tell me how Jessica Spain did it.
The third-year head coach has taken a group of girls that used to say “whatever” and turned them into a team that now says “whatever it takes.” The Lady Bearcats (22-8) are a No. 1 seed when they open the Class 2A state playoffs at home today against Hamilton (5 p.m.); the 26-year-old Spain is a big reason why.
“I didn’t see the passion, desire, they didn’t have any of that,” Spain said of her first encounter with the team in 2005. “(Softball) was something to do. They have so much passion for this sport. They’re so committed.”
That commitment is evident on the players’ team T-shirt, which reads: “No sacrifices, no victory.” Baldwyn has but two seniors and four juniors, yet Spain called their collective work ethic “extreme.” The seniors are first baseman Lauren Oswalt – the vocal leader – and right fielder Becky Bishop – the quiet one.
Their task tonight is to overcome a Hamilton team steeped in tradition – the Lady Lions have won three state titles. Baldwyn is seeking its first.
“My girls haven’t been there, they don’t know what it’s like,” Spain said. “They just play every game like it’s their last one.”
I’ll be at this series tonight. We’re also covering Kossuth at Nettleton and Mooreville at Booneville. The rest of you, please be sure to call in (678-1601). Always good to see Northeast Mississippi put so many teams in the slow-pitch state playoffs, and so many of them legit contenders.