One percent effort is all Yazoo County softball coach Grant Andrews requires from his players. While that may sound like a recipe for disaster, when you analyze what the veteran softball coach is really saying, you quickly understand that the concept is not as far-fetched as it initially sounds.
“Our motto this year is one percent and the players bought in on it and worked very hard,” says Andrews. “One percent means that if you give 99 percent in a practice or game and slack off that one percent, that could be the difference between winning and losing. I gave them the example of running out a routine pop-up. If you just jog and your opponent drops the ball you still end up on first base, but if you give that one percent effort and hustle, now you’re on second and we have a runner in scoring position.”
It’s that kind of thinking that has Andrews and his Lady Panthers poised to make a run as the Class 3A softball playoffs begin this week. The Lady Panthers, winners of their district with an 11-9 overall record and 5-1 district record, were set to face Southeast Lauderdale on the road Tuesday and at home today at 5 p.m.
The Lady Panthers do not have many upperclassmen in the rotation, but what they lack in experience they make up for in hard work and determination. Those characteristics were on full display in Yazoo County’s district-clinching double header with Magee to end the regular season.
Going into the doubleheader, Yazoo County and Magee were tied, with the district title up for grabs. Magee won the first game 7-4 meaning the Lady Panthers would have to win convincingly to secure the conference championship.
Said Andrews, “I told them between games that if we just settle down and play ball like we can, there is no doubt we will win the second game and take first place back. We won the second game 18-9 and beat a good team that put us out of the playoffs three years ago. We could have laid down after losing game one but that’s not what this team does.”
Added Andrews: “It feels good (to win district) knowing that we are playing all sophomores or younger kids in the lineup,” said Andrews. “This team loves the game, wants to win and is coachable and that is the reason they defeated the odds this year and won the district. There were several games this year that we were down by at least five runs or more and we came back to win. This team does not quit and that is what you need to have if you want to win district and advance in the playoffs.”