Mar 28, 2018
The mood was relaxed, yet business-like as coach David Russo directed a Wednesday morning practice for the Wallace Lady Govs softball team.
The players were sharp in fielding drills – gobbling up ground balls, firing throws with precision from base-to-base and running down fly balls in the outfield with determination.
These are good days for the program, which is enjoying its most success since Gene Dews led Wallace to nine consecutive Southern Division championships, three state titles and three national tournament appearances while in charge from 2001-2011.
Despite the success the Lady Govs are experiencing, none of the players show a hint of overconfidence.
"Coach Russo really helps our mindset and keeps us humble – him telling us every time to just win the inning," sophomore third baseman Taylor Parker said.
Russo knew his team had a chance to be good this year, but the fantastic start has even taken him a little by surprise.
"This kind of success – I don't think you can ever envision anything like that," Russo said. "But I thought we would have a good ball club. We won 46 games last year and we had a nice nucleus coming back and we were really pleased with the freshmen coming in.
"We felt we would have a good season, but it's been really special."
Parker believes a talented group of freshmen have helped Wallace reach the next level.
"Honestly, last year we were a very good team, we had a lot of talent, but we just didn't put it all together in the state (tournament)," Parker said. "This year we're really coming together. We have these freshmen coming up and really doing what they need to do – playing their part.
"I'm very proud of the freshmen and that's why we are where we are today."
The talent was never really in question, thus it's perhaps the chemistry that has put the Lady Govs over the top.
"There's not a lot of drama," Parker said. "We communicate very well and I feel like everybody does their part on the team. Nobody is selfish and we all care about each other."
Ivy Sanders, a sophomore first baseman, takes it a step further.
"We're together all of the time – every day, every weekend," Sanders said. "We all get along and that's really what builds our chemistry. We're kind of like sisters at this point."