TIFTON — Softball camp and a greased up slip and slide may seem like two different things, but for a couple of hours Wednesday, they were one and the same. Camp wrapped at Tift County High School with lunch, T-shirts and plenty of sliding.
The sliding tied in to the skills Lady Devils head coach Taylor Barber, his assistant coaches and high school players were polishing with the young group. Barber stood at one end of the tarp and talked the campers through technique, which was demonstrated by the players. Hook slides and headfirst slides were detailed.
All campers demonstrated their knowledge of sliding, which quickly became less official as water balloons and a pool float appeared, with baby oil poured frequently to keep the surface slick.
Softball camp took place over three mornings at the TCHS field.
“Monday, we did a defensive session,” said Barber. Coaches taught players how to stretch, run and throw like high school players do. They had a chance to practice both infield and outfield positions. “Tuesday, we did nothing but offense.” That was a chance to enter the batting cage and hit on the field.
Wednesday was skills challenge day, running, throwing and hitting. Running was a 20-yard dash, the equivalent from home to first base. Hitting was a home run derby, Barber soft-pitching tennis balls. Batters hit from near the mound or second base, depending on age. Several cleared the fence with their blasts.
Campers were split into three age groups. A small group attended, giving everyone lots of one-on-one time. One of the newest Lady Devils, Lanie Jewell, was one of the most active, he said.
“The kids have been all about Lanie and Alicia (Lee),” Barber said. “They have been absolutely fantastic.” He said Jewell has fit in so well with teammates that it seems like she’s been in Tifton for three years instead of just moving in this spring.
For the Lady Devils’ hard work assisting the camp, Barber granted them a day off Thursday.
“This is the part it’s all about,” he said, “is just getting these younger kids to see these older ones.” Once the season starts, Barber said many of the campers would be attending games. “They now know them personally.”
The adult coaches declined to go down the slide. Besides Barber, Xavier Holmes, Teresa Walker and Ivey Vickers were on hand to assist.