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From the Bleachers

By Staff
Future bright for Lady Cougars
By Adam Prestridge
The agony of defeat has been portrayed in many forms throughout the years.
There’s always the emotional photo of players hugging with streams of tears running down their cheeks. And when it comes to stories, hard-fought losses and upsets have been jotted down on notepads about every way they can be for use in newspapers and magazines across the world.
So why should the Escambia Academy Lady Cougars’ two-up, two-down elimination in the AISA Elite 8 state tournament in Montgomery not be viewed as bad as some state tournament losses?
Simple, the Lady Cougars are full of youth. They only have one senior, Talerie Singleton, graduating this year, which should have the team optimistic for next season.
So was the loss hard on the players? Sure!
But each member of EA’s varsity softball team should wipe away the tears and begin planning for next season, when, with a lot of hard work, they will take another trip to the State Capitol for another shot at the AISA Class AA state championship.
Head coach Keri Payne had a lot of optimism Saturday when interviewed about the state tournament by the Advance. She has confidence that her team will mature during the off-season and improve fundamentally, and be back in the hunt for the title next season. In fact, she expects it.
Payne has big plans for the Lady Cougars’ softball program, which will demand dedication during the off-season in the weight room and at camps. If the team plans on making it further in the state tournament, possibly the finals, they will have to devote themselves to softball until they lace up their cleats next February.
The Lady Cougars’ current roster is made up of one senior, three juniors, three sophomores, six freshmen and two eighth graders. Not to mention, Payne moved up a few players from junior varsity following their season to contribute to the varsity squad.
With that type of youth returning next season, some coaches would view it as another building season, but not Payne. Most of the players have played at least two seasons on the varsity level, so sophomores should have the knowledge of most juniors, juniors of most seniors and by the time they are seniors they should be seasoned veterans.
The Lady Cougars’ record of 9-17 maybe wasn’t the most attractive among teams in the AISA, but a point or two were the deciding factor in some of those losses and the others were the result of error-filled innings.
The girls on the team need to view this past season as a learning experience and work hard to get better next year. Fundamentals are key, but being mentally prepared is crucial when playing for titles. The players can’t let one mistake get them down because it can cause a chain reaction of more mistakes and cost them the game.
Good job this season Lady Cougars. Looking forward to next year.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or at adam.prestridge@atmoreadvance.com