Chilton County softball a family affair

Published 5:18 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

Krisi Parrish coaching the Chilton County softball team just seems right-even if she never planned on doing so.

Parrish’s ties to the programs are strong.

Parrish was on the first CCHS softball team, which was coached by her mother and father. Parrish’s daughter, Lindsey, a rising junior, is one of the current team’s primary pitchers. Parrish’s husband, Ronnie, has coached youth softball and is an assistant with the high school team.

One might think Parrish would have always seen herself coaching the team, but that is not so. Parrish agreed to help the 2007 team with conditioning before the coach resigned.

Parrish, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to take over and admits to being uneasy in the position.

“It’s like your first day of school: the teacher’s just terrible, but, by the end of the year, you really like her,” Parrish said. “You have to start out being the mean one and then tone it down.”

The toned down style appears to work well for Parrish, as her Tigers this past season enjoyed their best year under Parrish. CCHS fell just short of a berth in the state tournament, losing to Chelsea, 7-5, in a regional tournament despite out-hitting the Hornets 7-4.

The campaign was good enough to earn Parrish The Clanton Advertiser’s Softball Coach of the Year honor, but Parrish is quick to share the credit.

“A coach is only as good as the players you have on the field,” Parrish said.

A group of rising juniors is a significant part of that success. Other than Lindsey Parrish, there are fellow pitchers Brianna Cleckler and Kadie Coker, infielders April Lewis and Lauren Stewart, and outfielder Mary Katherine Graham.

That group has grown as players as Krisi Parrish has grown as a coach.

A trip to the Gulf coast for a tournament during Spring Break defined that growth-and perhaps the season.

The bus trips to and from the coast provided time for the players and coaches to get to know each other better, and the team also held nightly meetings, which included devotionals and character building exercises, such as the girls taking turns describing to the group what they like about the person sitting next to them.

“We only went 1-5 down there, but it was the being together,” Parrish said.

The Tigers lost only one senior, outfielder Macee Thomas, to graduation, so the team has high expectations for next year. A new commitment to winning and to each other is an important part of those expectations.

“I’ve never seen them so not ready to stop,” Parrish said about the scene after the Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs. “They cried in the parking lot. I didn’t think we were going to get them home.”

Now, the Tigers can only look forward to next season. If it’s like last season, it will feel like a family reunion—not only for the players, but also for Parrish.

Ronnie will be in the dugout and coaching first base. Krisi’s mother, Geraldine Sorrell, who started the program in 1988, will be taking up money at the gate and running the concession stand, even offering some of her homemade desserts. Krisi’s father, Gene Sorrell, will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and spending some time in the dugout.

That only part of what has become a unique experience. Music is played loudly between innings. A new locker room and restrooms have been constructed alongside the existing concession stand.

Before, fans needing a restroom either had to drive across the street to Wendy’s or walk over to the football field, and sometimes the gate there was locked.

Despite the improvements, it’s a familiar setting for Parrish.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve been at the ballpark,” she said.

With her daughter playing on a team primed for a historic season, family tradition will continue for at least one more year.