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Haney learns a lot coaching LCHS girls

MONTICELLO — Although she is just 26-years-old, Lawrence Countyhead slowpitch softball coach Jill Haney has learned a lot in threeyears.

Haney’s 2007 Lady Cougar team went all the way to the Class 4Astate finals where they lost to New Hope in the best of threeseries in the third game. They finished the season 28-11.

Haney, who is in her second year as head coach, has beenselected as the DAILY LEADER’S 2007 All-Area Slowpitch Co-Coach ofthe Year.

“I feel honored,” said Haney. “I absolutely love the game.”

The early part of the season was tough on Haney and herplayers.

“I had a great group of girls,” explained Haney of her primarilysenior and freshman team. “We had a rough start.”

“Everybody was stressed out,” stated Haney.

Until the Florence game.

“The light just seemed to come on,” said Haney of her team.”Everything clicked. Florence was a huge win for us.”

Haney said beating Brookhaven in their second meeting of theyear was big as well. “Kate Davis had a couple of big plays ondefense that stopped the Panthers. We won 9-7. Beating Brookhavenis always a special high.”

The Cougars made it through the year with one pitcher, BridgeeWilliams.

Lawrence County marched through the regionals to the stateplayoffs. Along the way they beat Quitman who had eliminated themthe previous year. Beating Quitman was special.

“It was a great year,” added Haney. “It was a fun ride. You geta little greedy when you get to this point.”

Haney, who also serves as an assistant coach on the fastpitchteam, credited fastpitch head coach Beronica Stringfellow forteaching her how to coach.

“Coach Stringfellow taught me the most about coaching,” praisedHaney.

Haney is a native of Columbia and a graduate of Columbia HighSchool where she played basketball, softball and tennis. Haneyplayed short stop in softball and was a shooting guard inbasketball.

Columbia softball coach Greg Owen and girls basketball coachBrian Ratliff influenced her in sports. “I enjoyed playing forthem. They had a good rapport with us. A lot of us grew up playingtogether. I learned the game from those guys.”

Following high school, Haney graduated from the University ofSouthern Mississippi with a BA in English. She is currently doinggraduate work.

Haney came to Lawrence County three years ago and was anassistant coach her first year. She took over the slowpitch teamtwo years ago.

Haney lives in Hattiesburg and commutes during the week toMonticello. She teaches high school English.

Haney believes her girls have a lot of heart and that’s what gotthem to the title game.

“Talent takes you only so far, heart takes you the rest of theway,” added Haney. “We couldn’t have got where we were withoutheart.”

Haney’s assistant coach is Roberta Johnson.