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Hornets cool under pressure

PLANTERSVILLE — Cassie Daniels gets nervous in big moments, but Dallas County High School has the antidote: coach Ed Miller.

Daniels faced a bases-loaded situation in the regional tournament last weekend when Miller walked out to the mound. Whatever he said worked. No runs scored.

“He usually doesn’t say anything related to softball,” Daniels said. “He came out one time and asked us what he should get his wife for their anniversary. I was shocked he would ask us about that.”

The players gave good advice — flowers — just as Miller does in practice.

“Against Thomasville I was expecting him to say calm down and throw strikes and let’s get out of this,” Daniels said. “He just said it’s ok and relax and don’t worry about it. He’s good at stuff like that.”

Daniels has confidence in those moments because of the defense around her.

“The pitcher definitely has to trust her defense,” Daniels said. “When you throw a riseball, which is my best pitch, if you throw it too low, they’re going to hit it and it’s going to end up in the outfield. I look out there and see (Rodnesha Vinson) and (Jessica Spears) and I know they’re going to catch it.”

Between its pitching and defense, Dallas County has put itself in position to compete for the state championship starting Friday at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

“Our athletic director told me there’s no pressure because nobody’s heard of you,” Daniels said. “They don’t know us at that level. It’s definitely nerve-wracking because it’s our first time being there.”

Vinson is one of three seniors on the Hornet team, and she said that has put an added importance on the tournament for her.

“It’s very important to me. This is the sport I love,” Vinson said. “I feel very confident. We need to relax and settle down and play the game we love to play.”

Miller isn’t worried about nerves taking over in the state tournament after watching the Hornets play in the regional tournament.

“They’ll be calm,” Miller said. “I told them all you can do is get here and make the same plays.”