Photo by Kyle Parmley.
Shelby Lowery will continue her career at the University of Montevallo next season.
The momentum in high school softball swings drastically from one pitch to the next.
Just ask Hoover.
The Lady Bucs played a game against Tuscaloosa County on April 12 that featured six lead changes in a 10-inning contest. In the seventh inning of that game, Tuscaloosa County took a two-run lead and was just a strike away from winning the ballgame.
The dugout was quiet. Then, like the flip of a switch, it ascended into an uproar. A line drive to center field that should have been caught was dropped, prompting the players — the name cheerleader could also be used — to go crazy.
A two-out rally began that saw Hoover load the bases for Kaley Anthony, who hit a line drive off the fence in left, mere inches from being a walk-off grand slam. Can you even imagine what would have happened in the dugout if that would have happened?
“I probably hear (the dugout) until she’s mid-pitch,” Anthony said, a junior shortstop on this year’s team. “Then after that, I hear nothing. It’s completely silent.”
Head coach Lexi Shrout says the team plays better when the dugout is loud, and Anthony considers it a facet of the team’s game along with hitting and defense.
In her second season at the helm, Shrout is attempting to take the Lady Bucs back to the postseason and a step further than the regional round, where they fell to Thompson 1-0 in 10 innings a season ago.
“Last year, we all learned that we need to start early,” senior second baseman Shelby Lowery said. “We wouldn’t do anything in the first couple innings and the last inning we would come back.”
The talent level is there for Hoover. Pitcher Abby Grace Praytor (Spring Hill College) and Lowery (University of Montevallo) have both signed to play collegiately. Catcher Abby Tissier is on her way to Auburn in 2017.
“Right now, we’re all just puzzle pieces,” Anthony said. “Once we get all the puzzle pieces together, we’re going to be unstoppable.”
The Lady Bucs jumped out to a hot start, with an early season record of 25-4-1. The challenge will be finishing the back end of the season with the same steam.
“I think that they know that they can go all the way if we keep working hard and keep pushing through,” Shrout said.
There is no question in Lowery’s mind that Hoover has what it takes to reach that pinnacle of success.
She said, “We all love each other, and there’s just so much talent, it is insane. We have a great chance.”