The No. 3 Ocean Springs’ softball team has been one of Mississippi’s top programs this year but it was a trip to Troy, Alabama, that actually got the Lady Greyhounds going.
Entering The Trojan Classic, the Lady Greyhounds (15-2) were a modest 2-1 on the year with what coach Lindsay O’Brien called an “eye opening” 7-4 loss to Petal in the second game of the year.
In Troy, however, O’Brien said she saw her team come together. The Lady Greyhounds had hoped to use the trip as a team bonding experience, but got even more out of their excursion. OSHS ripped through the competition, beating host Charles Henderson 8-2 before topping Zion Chapel, Brantley, Ariton and American Christian Academy by a combined 17-0.
“We built confidence and saw exactly what we could accomplish. That was a turning point for us,” O’Brien said Monday. “We beat some tough teams. I wanted to go get experience versus good competition and I didn’t want to do it here where everyone was watching us.
“(The tournament title) I think has made us work even harder.”
Since then the Lady Greyhounds have been nearly untouchable, the only blemish coming in the form of a 2-1 loss to Megan Dudenhefer and Picayune on March 11.
Only a freshman, Kylie Taylor has been one of the top two-way players in the state. The Missouri commit has 13 wins with a 0.64 ERA. She’s also among the state’s leaders with 114 strikeouts in 87 innings.
“She is the hardest worker. I didn’t know what to expect (when she transferred to OSHS from East Central), but she’s a great kid and team player,” O’Brien said. “She’s the first one on the field putting the bases out and the last one packing the mound.”
O’Brien also credit’s Taylor’s velocity and spin rate, adding, as if that wasn’t enough, that her control is top-notch.
Taylor is also dangerous at the plate, hitting .412 with seven extra-base hits and 18 RBIs.
The table setter for an Ocean Springs club that boasts a .337 team batting average has been sophomore shortstop Mikaila Fox. The Virginia commit is leading the Lady Greyhounds with a .562 batting average. She also has five extra-base hits, 13 RBIs, 12 runs scored, a .622 on-base percentage and a .875 slugging percentage.
“I’ve always said with her at shortstop she was the heart of the defense and I still believe that,” O’Brien said. “She’s a leader and at the plate she’s been very, very good.”
The Lady Greyhounds have six games remaining in the regular season before what they hope is a prolonged post-season push.
O’Brien said her team isn’t looking at the big picture, instead taking a micro-view of what’s ahead.
“Our big philosophy is one pitch at a time,” she said. “Not one game, one pitch. That’s what we focus on.
“I know it’s a bit cliche with (Alabama football coach) Nick Saban saying it, but it’s all about the process. If we do everything we’re supposed to do in practice the wins will take care of themselves.”
Baseball Top 10
1. Gulfport (30)
2. West Harrison (26)
3. Pearl River Central (25)
4. Ocean Springs (18)
T5. George County (16)
T5. Biloxi (16)
7. St. Martin (14)
8. Vancleave (8)
9. Long Beach (6)
T10. St. Stanislaus (3)
T10. Bay (3)
Softball Top 10
1. Harrison Central (30)
2. St. Patrick (27)
3. Ocean Springs (23)
4. East Central (22)
5. Poplarville (17)
6. George County (15)
T7. Picayune (9)
T7. Pass Christian (9)
T9. St. Martin (5)
T9. West Harrison (5)
Dropped out: Our Lady Academy (2; 13-2; T10)
Receiving votes: Pearl River Central (1; 9-4; RV)