Brad Grinstead, head softball coach at Mississippi Delta Community College, recently sat down for a question and answer session with MDCC athletic director/sports information director Dan Rives to wrap up the Trojans 2020 fall practice session.
Grinstead, who is in his fourth season as the Delta skipper, saw his team play outside competition games at Southwest Community College, Blue Mountain College and at home, in addition to numerous intrasquad scrimmages. The head man came away pleased with what he saw from his team, and spoke about it with Rives.
In your eyes, how did you feel like the fall practice session went?
I was very impressed with our grit and toughness. We were excited about this group coming in based on two main reasons. We knew we had a lot of talent coming in, and that the program was continuing to move forward, but we noticed a lot in the recruiting class and in the sophomores coming back, a lot of toughness and eagerness to put Mississippi Delta on the map.
Where do you guys go from here until the players return in January?
For us, our big focus is to fine-tune on some mistakes that we made in the fall and to build on our strengths. Most importantly, we will continue to spend this time developing our players in the weight room and through agility and sprint work sessions. With the big break, I feel that a lot of the accountability falls on the culture that we’ve created within the program. I actually feel very comfortable that these young ladies are going to go home and continue to work on their own. I know they will strive to continue to push this program forward with high goals of making our first playoff appearance, and I am actually very eager to see the work they will put in.
Let’s talk about pitching now. Who were some standouts for you in the circle?
In a good way, and a bad way, there were not a lot of surprises there because I was excited about the four pitchers we had that were either coming in or returning this year between Alex Johnson (Raleigh), Cearra McPherson (Springdale, Ark.), Gracie Parsons (Southaven) and Cassidy Simmons (Aberdeen). I was very excited to see them take on a role to be the face of the pitching staff, each in their own way and continue to fight everyday to grow this program into a competitive team that is going to compete for a Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) championship. I think if you are looking at Cearra and Gracie, they are toe-to-toe on who’s the pitcher of the day. Alex and Cassie are right there behind them, and that’s the joy of it.
From a position player standpoint, what caught your eye there?
Overall, I think we were genuinely surprised in a few of them, but we were also expecting a lot of these things. We had some players come in that once we knew they got into the system would flourish, but the quickness of their adjustments and their ability to develop on the fly really impressed us. Faith Shankle (Senatobia) and Morgan Bigbee (Lexington) were two of these that really stood out, along with McKinley Newcomer (Columbia), who led the charge with a very consistent, powerful stick all fall.
How were you guys able to adapt to all things COVID related?
I’m probably not the only coach to say this, but I felt like it was a really tough adjustment early on. However, like anything, you have to create it as a normal activity or routine and I feel like we handled it very well. I feel like we did a good job of responding to that adversity, and adjusting accordingly.
Once you return in January, what are some things that you will be looking for out of your ballclub?
You know, you’re going to have your rust from two months off, but the thing that I’m looking to see is that grit and toughness that we saw in the fall. All of that, coupled with the hunger of knowing that it’s time to get out on the field and compete day in and day out with some of the best teams in the state and in the nation.
Going into year four, how do you feel about where the program currently sits?
We have been right on track from where we’ve wanted to be from year one. We have put a plan in place on where we have wanted to be each year, and sitting here in year four, I feel like we are right on track with where we planned to be. In fact, we are ahead in a lot of aspects. We’ve been able to redo a lot of the softball facility, with the field receiving new dugouts, bullpens, cages and fencing, and the list goes on and on. Just the general culture of the team is much different, and I think we come in everyday competing to be the best in the state and it’s not a thought process of if, but when.
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