QUICK TURNAROUND: Southside already heading into conference play

Published 3:02 pm Saturday, March 12, 2016

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS YOUNG GUN: Freshman Alyssa McLawhorn throws a pitch to a South Creek batter. She got two games of experience under her belt before traveling to Bear Grass for conference action on Tuesday.

YOUNG GUN: Freshman Alyssa McLawhorn throws a pitch to a South Creek batter. She got two games of experience under her belt before traveling to Bear Grass for conference action on Tuesday.


CHOCOWINITY — It’s something that’s starting to become ritual for Southside. Football season ran long with the team making it to the regional final. That put the basketball team in a bind when it had to play two of the 1-A Coastal Plains’ best teams in its first games of the season.

Both of the school’s basketball teams made it to the first round of the state playoffs, which bled into baseball and softball season a bit. The Seahawks and Lady Seahawks have played just two games apiece heading into Tuesday’s conference openers at Bear Grass.

Softball coach Milton Ruffin also coaches the girls’ basketball team, so he knew all about the quick turnaround he was in store for. A lot of other teams may have four or more games under their belt by their first conference match, so he’s been paying extra attention to the Lady Seahawks in their first two outings.

It’s been black and white so far. Southside walloped Columbia, 16-2, in their season opener. Fast-forward to Friday and the Lady Seahawks suffered a 7-0 shutout at the hands of South Creek.

“It was a good South Creek team. I was just telling them about the South Creek pitching,” Ruffin said. “We need to make the adjustment. … We didn’t make the adjustment out there. Also, my girls didn’t communicate out there. We have to work on that, too.”

Ruffin won’t chalk up the communication issues to the team’s youth. He said the girls have been playing together long enough — even before they wore blue and white uniforms.

Lackluster defense was their undoing. South Creek got base hits from its first two batters. Stephanie Moore put the ball in play and it paid dividends for the visitors. Regan Evans and Hannah Summerlin scored easily thanks to a pair of Southside throwing errors at second and third base.

Southside also had an error in the fifth that helped the Lady Cougars pour on three more runs. Milton isn’t making any excuses. He’s hoping the girls can learn from the game and apply it at Bear Grass on Tuesday.

“The expectations for the team are high,” he said. “We can’t wait. We’ve got to play the schedule that’s in front of us. We’ve just got to continue to work hard and do better.

“First of all, it’s learning to make adjustments in the game. The girls have to be coachable. Then it’s communication in the infield. We have to talk to each other. It will make a big difference.”

The baseball team will experience a similar challenge. They had a 6-1 lead over South Creek going into the sixth inning, but had to squeak out a one-run win. Coach Kevin McRoy is happy not just about the 2-0 start, but that his team also got to experience a wide-open game and a close call early in the season.

“We’ve had both ends of the spectrum. We’ve had a good, large win and we’ve had a close win we’ve had to hang on to,” McRoy said. “We can go ahead and get those close-game jitters that you experience in close games on out of the way. When we experience those, we know how to handle them.”

FIRST OF MANY: Will Warren throws a pitch during his first trip to the mound of his high-school career. Warren and the Seahawks staved off a comeback attempt by South Creek.

South Creek was able to mount its comeback with freshman relief pitcher Will Warren on the mound. He didn’t have a bad outing by any means, but McRoy did notice some nervousness from Warren in his first high-school appearance.

However, that was a goal of the short non-conference stretch. McRoy wanted to learn about his pitching staff. He’s seen four pitchers thus far and feels that Paul Radford and Terry Moore will lead the group.

He also told his team to play a more relaxed game; to stay loose and make the routine plays. The Seahawks had a few missed opportunities to close out the game before the Cougars got too close for comfort.

Both Southside squads travel to Bear Grass on Tuesday. They’ll stay on the road Friday for games at Jones Senior.