CLARKSDALE - Coahoma softball was hoping to start a brand new era under first-year head coach Whitney Brinston. Things appeared promising for the Tigers at the beginning of the season. Then the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of practice and games. The Tigers anticipated completing the season. Due to the rise of coronavirus cases throughout the United States, the NJCAA ended up canceling all spring sports in 2020. This decision brought a very abrupt end to the 2020 season.
The team worked toward progress in the offseason and became acclimated to the new coaching staff. Brinston is no newcomer. She was a member of the CCC softball team in 2012 then returned to the program in 2016 as an assistant coach. When former head coach Erin Smith resigned after the 2019 season, Brinston was promoted to head coach.
Brinston went to work immediately by recruiting and stepping up for her returning players. She inherited a team with six returning sophomores, including five starters. Brinston brought in a lot of players from all over the map who were ready for the diamond.
Inclement weather pushed back the season opener against Onley Central College. Coahoma finally held their season opener on March 5, 2020, against National Park College in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The Tigers gave their all in an exciting season opener, but unfortunately lost the doubleheader (14-12, 13-11). Coahoma accumulated 35 hits combined in the doubleheader, including 11 doubles, four triples, and a home run.
In Game 1, Amber Pettis and Alexis Holland led the Tigers with four hits. Holland was 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Working her way into the top three, Pettis was 4 for 4 with two doubles. Michelle Davenport was 2 for 4 with a 3-run home run and two RBI triples.
CCC had a 12-10 lead, but National Park dominated with four runs in the sixth inning, giving them a 14-12 victory.
In Game 2, Millay Lambert led the Tigers with three hits and two RBIs. Jaylen Bilbro and Shelby Price combined for six hits and two RBIs. Bilbro was 3 for 5 with an RBI. Price was 3 for 6 with an RBI.
Coahoma had an 11-10 lead until National Park's Jessye Rowland hit a walk-off three-run homer for a 13-11 victory.
The Tigers were heartbroken, but they remained confident in their ability to compete with anybody. They geared up for a better performance in their MACJC Conference opener against East Central.
The Warriors slowed down the Tigers' offense in the doubleheader. They held Coahoma to five hits and no runs. East Central swept the Tigers in the conference opener (8-0, 18-0).
After the conference opener, the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to set in, canceling the non-conference matchup against North Arkansas College on March 16, 2020.
All members of the team are maintaining their health and taking online classes to stay eligible. The bright side for CCC is the NJCAA is granting an extra year of eligibility for all athletes in spring sports.
Brinston's first season was a blur. However, the experience she has gained will benefit her and the players going into the 2021 season.