DENHAM SPRINGS – First-year Denham Springs High softball coach Leslie Efferson-Yellott knows supporters expect to see her team on the diamond, but that won’t be the only place they will be active.
“We want our girls to get out in the community and serve others,” Efferson-Yellott told the Denham Springs Kiwanis Club at its meeting Thursday, March 2.
“This is lacking in the generation we are working with,” she added. “I’m asking the Kiwanis, if you need volunteers, let us know.”
“You should do a lot of community service,” Efferson-Yellott said about high school-age students. “I’m passionate with my girls. We support our kids. We’re firm believers in that.”
When she coached at Zachary High, her teams made monthly visits to the Louisiana War Veterans Home in Jackson, and she said she would like to continue that at Denham Springs.
“The outpouring of love, from the men and women there, was tremendous. The vets weren’t shy” about inviting them back, she added.
Efferson-Yellott, a standout softball pitcher at Baker High and Nicholls State University, is in her first year at Denham Springs, with her husband, Robbie, as her assistant coach.
Last season, she coached Zachary to the Class 5A championship game.
“We’re excited to be here. It was a hard decision to leave Zachary; we have great relationships with our kids,” Yellott said. “It was hard to walk away. We prayed about it and felt this is where God was leading us.”
She also praised the support she has received from Principal Kelly Jones.
“He’s a big softball supporter; he is at almost every one of our games. I’ve never had a principal as passionate and supportive as he is about all the sports programs,” Yellott said.
North Park Field No. 2 is the Yellowjackets’ home field, she said, and “It does not look like the other fields. We had a windscreen donated; field signs are up.”
So far, Yellott estimates donations and services provided total about $50,000. Her next project is an ice machine, she said.
The six-year-old ice machine in the concession stand needs repairs that could cost as much as the machine, she said. It also needs to be outside of the concession stand for air to circulate.
“Every day we stop to get four bags of ice for injuries, for maintenance of pitchers after practice,” Yellott said.
When Yellott spoke last week, Denham Springs had a 2-3 record.
“We should have only one loss,” she said at the time. “We’re a work in progress. We’re working to change the culture in a program. That is not an easy thing to do.”
On their schedule last weekend and earlier this week were John Curtis and St. Thomas Aquinas, a team that made the state softball tournament in Sulphur, Parkview Baptist, “a perennial state championship contender,” and Acadiana.
Robbie Yellott – “I’m the numbers guy” – summed up Denham Springs’ schedule this season: 82 percent of the teams on the schedule made playoffs in 2016, 35 percent made to Sulphur. All five teams in their District 4-5A made the playoffs.
“In our district, one made the (state) finals, one was a semifinalist, one a quarterfinalist,” Yellott said.
The coach picked Central as their toughest district opponent, “a senior-junior heavy team with a junior pitcher who can spin the ball and a senior pitcher with plenty of experience.”
Denham Springs has six seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores and six freshmen, she said.
“We’ll be very well balanced as far as numbers,” Yellott said. “The seniors are a precious group. I wish we had more time with them.”
Yellot praised the work of senior pitcher Allison Irby in the Yellowjackets’ 2-1 win over Dutchtown.
“Our senior has done very well,” she said. “She threw a one-hitter against Dutchtown.”
The coach took the blame for Dutchtown’s lone run, a home run off a changeup that Yellott called.
“I called the changeup. It was my fault it went over the fence. I told her that,” she said.