BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Whether it's preseason warm-ups, or the week of state championships, the stakes are just as high at every single St. Patrick softball practice.
"A lot of it is just hard work and dedication," said St. Patrick junior catcher Anna Grace Castanedo "We're out here every day at 4 o'clock for about two and a half hours."
From long hours in practice to a grueling regular season, the hard work is paying off for the Lady Irish, as they find themselves two wins away from another State Championship.
"Looking at our schedule this year at the beginning of the year, we were like, wow, we're playing some really good teams." said Lady Irish senior Anna D'Aquilla, who holds the school records for career strikeouts and shutouts. "But that helps us out, playing those good teams, playing Harrison Central, playing Ocean Springs, that helps us out."
This level of success should come as no surprise, as the Lady Irish boast an incredible 59-0 record in district play over the last eight years.
The secret behind such sustained success?
"It's not even a one-word answer," head coach Kelli Mullen said.
"Coaching is a good place to start," D'Aquilla said. "We have girls that are really dedicated, girls that really want it. They want to work hard."
"It's a lot of work," Mullen said. "Some girls don't want to (work), so we want the girls out here that want to work, that want to improve, so that's what we're seeing."
District domination is nice, but the Lady Irish make it clear. They have only one goal in mind this season, to add another state champions sign to their stadium.
"At the beginning of the year we set our goal for winning state," Mullen said. "That is our goal. We're one step closer now."
"We're so focused on one goal and that is just winning it all," Castanedo said.
The Lady Irish open the Class 2A State Championship Series against the Lake Hornets Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the USM Softball Complex.