Tough breaks test Billies

The Monticello Lady Billies softball team has had some tough luck this year while losing some heartbreaking games. The Lady Billies are looking to bounce back from a 10-9 loss to Nashville (defending 4A champion) and a 12-10 loss to Malvern in the 4A South Region playoffs last week.

“Those were two tough losses,” head coach B.J. Jackson said. “We’ve just made too many mistakes at one time. We have to clean up our mistakes and walks and errors. We just need to catch a break.”

Monticello will host the 4A state tournament, starting Friday at 10 a.m. The tournament was originally scheduled to begin Thursday, but rain in the area pushed the schedule back one day.

The rain also kept the Lady Billies indoors for practice on Wednesday, and Jackson said that despite the delay, he is grateful they get to host the tournament in their own backyard.

“’Sleeping in your own bed is always an advantage,” Jackson said. “It’s good to have the same environment that you’re used to.”

Freshman center fielder Kiara Franklin, one of four freshmen to start for the Lady Billies, said she is also happy they get to host the state tournament.

“It feels good to be home and having the home crowd behind you,” Franklin said.

The Lady Billies are scheduled to face the Booneville Lady Bearcats at 12:30 p.m. Jackson said they have a tough draw because Booneville will show them something they haven’t seen all year.

“Boonville has a left-handed pitcher,” Jackson said. “She can throw about 60 miles per hour and we haven’t faced one before this year.”

Jackson said that Monticello (18-10) is looking to get back to the state finals for the first time since 2003.

Senior designated player Maggie Brown said she was disappointed in the two losses at regionals, but has a clear mindset heading into the state tournament.

“One or two games don’t define the next one,” Brown said. “Our coach has always told us ‘Don’t look to the past, always look forward to the future.’ I believe that’s what we are going to do.”

Brown also said she is sad her final season is about to end but she is ready to end it on a high note.

“It’s kind of sad but happy,” Brown said. “I love all these girls and I love softball and we’re going to play to the best of our ability.

“We definitely want to win (the state title), but we are going to take it one game at a time.”

Jackson said he was thankful that his team is healthy around this time of year and they are ready to put the regionals behind them and move forward.

“Health-wise, we are in good shape,” Jackson said. “I’ve told them we can’t worry about the two losses. We just need to focus on the upcoming game.”