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Southside pitcher improves speed, control

SELMA — Khadijdra Fails wants to play softball for LSU.

Recently, she got the chance to do just that.

Fails, a junior at Southside High School, attended a pitching camp at LSU and will bring the skills learned there back with her to help the Panthers next season.

“They told me what I was doing wrong,” Fails said. “They recorded it so I can see what to do.”

Fails said the camp helped change her arm movement and improved not only the velocity of her pitches, but the accuracy as well.

Southside softball coach April O’Neal, who attended the camp with Fails, said the exposure will be good for the whole team.

“She usually has the demeanor that she is the best,” O’Neal said. “Then she saw all these girls that had pitching longer than she had and were younger than her. She saw how far behind she was. It was a reality check, but it was good.”

Fails said the camp helped her develop a changeup and work her curveball as well as drop and riseball.

“I had to pretty much start from scratch,” Fails said. “Coming from slow-pitch really was really my downfall. I had to develop a lot.”

Fails won the Target Award at the camp for pitching accuracy. The competition was to take two pitches and knock a ball off a tee at home plate. Fails did it on the first try.

She then went to the tiebreaker with the other players who did it on the first try and repeated the feat while none of the others did to take the award.

O’Neal said Fails experience will be good for the team, but the Panthers won’t see the full reward until its defense improves.

“She’s starting to come along, but she needs to keep practicing on her own,” O’Neal said. “The coaches there said she needs to learn how to use legs more. But she can hit her spots all she wants, but the defense behind her doesn’t do her justice.”