Awesome, rock solid and rock stars are just a few of the words new Destin Coach Kati O’Brian used to describe the Destin Middle School girls softball team earlier this week as the girls took to the diamond.
“They are an amazing group of girls,” O’Brian said.
O’Brian had 27 girls tryout for the team and she cut it down to 15; three fifth graders, three sixth graders, seven seventh graders and two eighth graders.
Last week was their first week of practice.
“They have come a long way in just a week’s time,” she said.
Helping O’Brian coach up the players is Evelyn Hardin and Micah Priest.
Hardin played softball at Pryor Middle School, Choctaw High and in college. Priest has been involved in softball for a number of years having coached Little League, travel ball and serving as an assistant coach for the Marlins last year.
“We started rolling out on those techniques and they have just evolved and transformed so much … I can’t wait for our first game,” O'Brian said.
The Marlins will kickoff their season at 4 p.m., Feb. 20 at home against Meigs.
So far it looks like the Marlin pitching will be strong. Destin is returning seventh grader Ava Smith to the pitching circle.
“We’ve got two awesome pitchers this year,” O’Brian said.
In addition to Smith, fifth grader Izzy Douglas will be taking the mound as well.
“She is strong and throws a mean fast ball,” O’Brian said. “I’m very excited for both our pitchers.”
As for the bats, “they can hit,” she said.
And when it comes to defense, “it’s pretty rock solid,” O’Brian said.
She explained they have mostly upper classmen in the infield and a couple in the outfield.
“Regardless of our starting nine, we will range from fifth grade to eighth because these girls are rock stars,” O’Brian said. “They are so amazing.”
She said between their attitudes, the way they play, their motivation and their ability to be coached are “qualities of the best players that I’ve come across.”
O’Brian went on to say that the competition level of softball has changed since she played; noting a lot of the middle schoolers could compete on the high school level.
“My most favorite thing about these girls is their heart is full of clay and grass. They are just softball players from the ground up. I call them a family. I tell them they are each sisters and that softball is at the heart. But really they are the heart.”