The Smyrna Middle School softball team has gotten off to quite a start under new coach Rick Rodriguez. The Lady Eagles started the season 5-1 and have for the most part dominated the opposing teams.
The first-year coach said the team has worked really well together thus far in the season. The reason the girls play so well together, Rodriguez said, is because a majority of them are veteran players.
“They play probably an average a year of 44 games because of travel ball,” Rodriguez said. “They’re well-seasoned players. We only have three that don’t play basically nine months out of that year.”
Not only do the players practically play the whole year, most of them have played together since they were eight years old thanks in part to travel teams and the Smyrna/Clayton Little Lass Softball program.
Rodriguez’s daughter Madelynne is one of the pitchers on the team; she’s pitched two one-hitters and works really well with the catcher, so much so that Rodriguez allows them to make their own pitching calls.
How’s the rest of the team pan out? Other than some switching around at third base, Rodriguez said the infielders are a very close group. With six outfielders, Rodriguez always makes sure to give them all a chance to play in each game.
As it is with any team, there’s always room for improvement. For the Lady Eagles, it’s learning how to play on their field. Up until the team’s recent 16-6 loss to Milford, Rodriguez said they’ve played across the street at the Little Lass softball fields but he was told before the Milford game that they need to use the field at the middle school. However, Rodriguez said the field at the middle school doesn’t have the best conditions: the grass is better suited for a park, there are divots in the field and there are no dugouts.
Rodriguez said the conditions of the field were a factor in the loss to Milford; there were 10 errors on the day and two players rolled their ankles.
“If we have to continue on this field, we have to learn how to work with this field,” Rodriguez said. “We have to focus on trying to beat those obstacles.”
There are some tough games coming up for the Lady Eagles but the goal for the team is to continue winning.
“To bring back that [conference] flag, that’s the goal here,” he said.
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com.
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