AS LONG as the players are hustling, Jefferson coach Melissa Mullis is pretty understanding of softball mistakes during this time of year.
After all, the summer softball slate is a time for players to learn and, in turn, for Mullis to learn more about her players.
“The only way they get in trouble is a lack of intensity or a lack of communication,” said Mullis, who’s entering her second year back as Jefferson’s softball coach.
Jefferson — 13-19 last year — will play at least eight scrimmages this July in preparation for the regular season which starts in August.
Mullis describes her approach toward these exhibition games.
“My philosophy in the summer is ‘let’s see what you can do,’” said Mullis, who also coached the team from 2004-2007 to great success before taking a three-year hiatus.
That includes employing different strategies, deploying players in different positions and seeing how the team handles the different situations. And this is the time to test the waters, because, as Mullis put it, “the score doesn’t matter.”
“I’m seeing how they react,” she said.
Jefferson, which loses two starters off last year’s squad, will have a mix of older and younger players this year and, so far, the more seasoned players have done a noticeable job of leading this summer. That includes seniors Morgan McKinney, Cason Anderson and Lindsey Miles. The team’s juniors are also helping with leadership roles, too.
Mullis said that’s made practices so much easier.
“My upperclassmen have done a great job this summer of cultivating a good tradition,” she said.
Mullis said her team has played really well this summer — even “magical” at times she said — and expects that the good vibes will carry over into the fall.
“I think we’re going to have a great season,” she said.
Jefferson will find out soon enough as the season starts Aug. 10 at the Lanier Open in Gainesville. Though she values instruction time she has now, Mullis is certainly looking forward to when the games actually count.
“Yes,” she said. “Definitely. This is what we practice for year-round.”