FORT WHITE — An eight-day layoff couldn’t have come at a better time for the undefeated Lady Indians.
Between exams and game-loaded weeks, Fort White’s execution has slagged off a bit, even during a 14-1 win over Bronson in its last game.
Now rested and collected, Fort White (14-0, 10-0) is ready to take the field against Williston (3-13, 2-8) tonight.
“The girls have renewed energy, and I think the stress and pressure of all the tests and three games a week was wearing on them, so I think the break was good,” Fort White head coach Michele Padgett. “We’ve done something different every day (in practice) to keep it fun and fresh for them, and they’ve been real excited and real focused, so I think it’s actually been to our benefit.”
Padgett has run a bunch of different drills in practice to keep the competitive nature alive in her squad during the break. Whether it’s who commits the fewest errors or who gets the most hits, the Lady Indians are competing even if it’s against themselves.
“They’re a competitive bunch of girls, so everything is a game,” Padgett said. “It’s a lot of little drills so it’s not monotonous for them and something new.”
Something that isn’t new to this team is its collective passion for the game of softball. Winning hasn’t become a chore for the Lady Indians, whose passion has been the key to the best start in school history.
“The big thing is, these girls still think softball is fun,” Padgett said. “They know they have to work hard but they enjoy it, and I get tickled at them because they just get so excited. They still have that excitement every day about softball. They love each other.”
The Lady Indians shut out the Lady Red Devils 15-0 in three innings at home in the teams’ season opener on Feb. 2. Now it’s Fort White’s turn to head south to Williston for its second-to-last district game of the season.
Don’t let that big blowout fool you — the Lady Indians are going into tonight’s matchup with a single attitude.
They know Williston has nothing to lose.
“We’re playing every team now like they’re the best team out there,” Padgett said. “You get in the habit of winning, and that’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing because you don’t want to take it for granted. If you ask them, ‘How are you going to play tonight?’ they’ll say, ‘We’re going to play like they’re better than us.’ “
Tonight is also Fort White’s last game before spring break, leading into another layoff that’ll last 11 days. The team won’t have much time afterward to get back into a rhythm either.
The Lady Indians return on April 5 to face Hamilton County on Senior Night before dueling with Union County in a crucial district game in the regular season finale.
Padgett isn’t worried, though. She believes her girls have worked out some kinks before the eight-day layoff and are ready to play their best ball of the season.
“Everybody is tweaked back up and back to their fundamentals and mechanics,” Padgett said. “Our team is really fundamentally sound, and they know the only people that can beat us are ourselves.
“We’re playing ball like we should be right now.”