POPLARVILLE — The Pearl River softball team will have the luxury of having an abundance of youth and experience heading into the 2019 season.
Head coach Leigh White hasn't shied away from the challenge of bringing in a freshman heavy team in her 16th season leading the Lady Wildcats.
Part of the reason White is excited is because the returning sophomores have already stepped into leadership roles just two days into fall camp.
"I talked to our freshman at the end of last year because we lost so many sophomores from last season that were really good leaders but they showed this year's sophomore group how to be leaders on the team," White said. "They've taken all of these freshman under their wing and they're showing them around, showing them how we operate and the pace that we practice."
One of the more vocal returners on the team is sophomore catcher Mary Grace Turner (Greene County).
Turner has embraced the leadership role going into a season where she's expected to start at catcher.
"MG has come back and really been a leader back there," White said. "She has taken that torch and led the team on and off the field so far."
For White, her approach to fall ball has had to change a little bit due to having 14 freshmen.
"We're freshman heavy so we've had to change a little bit from the perspective of the things we've had to start coaching on, but this group is catching on quick in terms of the weight room and conditioning," White said. "I feel like we're further along than we were last year."
White's goals for fall ball are simple. She wants to see unity and competitiveness.
"I don't care about the wins," she said. "I care about how this team is going to compete and how they are going to play together. We know where we want our freshman pitchers to be so the goal is to have them ready and we want to see our hitters get in there and have that attack mentality.
"We want to have a gritty team that communicates."
The Lady Wildcats will begin their fall schedule when they welcome Pensacola State College for a double header on Saturday, Sept. 22 at noon.