Spain Park Softball
Spain Park's Jenna Olszewski (11) chases a fly ball in a Class 7A North Central Regional game between Spain Park and Vestavia Hills on May 14, 2016, at Tuscaloosa's Sokol Park.
The rollercoaster is stuck at the top.
While no one wants to get stuck on a ride at their favorite amusement park, the Spain Park softball team is firmly planted on a high following a season of dramatic peaks and valleys.
The Lady Jags followed a nine-game winning streak in the middle of the season with a stretch of 12 games where they were just 6-6. But now, after winning the Class 7A, Area 6 Tournament and earning the Regional Qualifier 1 spot at the North Central Regional, they are on top once again.
“The rollercoaster is broken, and we’re just going to keep fighting until it goes down and we win. Everyone is happy, we’re just going to go to the end and try to win,” senior third baseman Kynadi Tipler said.
Spain Park returns to the state tournament after missing out last season, a result that has driven the team to reach the final stage once again.
“It was really disappointing last year, because we knew we should’ve been there,” junior Caroline Parker said.
In order to do so, the Lady Jags will have to bear down and play their best ball of the season at state, and they have begun to realize just how tough it will be.
“We’re going to have to work as a team,” Parker said.
First baseman Hope Maddox has seen the team evolve over the season.
“It’s really cool that we all came together and worked our tails off to get where we are,” she said.
The team only has two seniors, in Tipler and catcher Destini England, who have signed at Delaware and UAB, respectively.
Tipler called it “kind of sad” to realize that her high school career is coming to a close. The rest of the team will have another shot in coming years, but they aren’t looking at it that way.
“I’d rather win it this year,” Parker said. “I don’t want to wait until next year.”
The Lady Jags’ road will start on Friday, as they take on Fairhope at 10:30 a.m. at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, and continue to Saturday depending on their results. Maddox hinted that the lead-up to the game will be interesting, but she believes she will settle in.
“Up to it, I’ll be like a nervous wreck, but once I get there, we’ll be fine,” she said.
Almost as nervous as someone would be sitting at the top of a broken down rollercoaster.