Spain Park softball team
Coach C.J. Hawkins discusses strategy with her Spain Park team. Photo by Christy Parker.
Rankings and records mean nothing when postseason play arrives.
Still, it’s tough to overlook what C.J. Hawkins’ Spain Park Lady Jaguars have done this spring on the softball diamond.
As late April approached, the Lady Jags were roaring along with a 15-3-2 record and ranked No. 3 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 7A rankings.
Spain Park is coming off an outstanding 2014 season that saw the Lady Jags finish fifth in the state tournament, posting the best season Hawkins’ team has had at Spain Park. Hawkins’ Clay-Chalkville team was runner-up in 2004.
So goals are high for the Lady Jags.
“The ultimate goal is always to win a state championship,” Hawkins said. “It’s attainable. We have to stay healthy, we have to get hot at the right time, peak at the right time. And team chemistry. We’ve got the weapons, but we’ve got to play together.
“It’s a crapshoot in our area.”
Ah, yes, the little matter of playing in one of the tougher areas around. The Lady Jags were 3-0 at this writing, midway through area play.
Class 7A, Area 6 is made up of Spain Park, Vestavia Hills, Hewitt-Trussville and Mountain Brook. Three of those were in the ASWA top 10 as of this writing. Hewitt is ranked No. 1 and Vestavia is No. 8. Hawkins doesn’t write off Mountain Brook yet, either.
Midway through the season, Hawkins felt like hitting, defense and the pitching of her two seniors, Mary Kathryn Bonamy and Mallory McCarty, were the strong points. Bonamy, sophomore Jenna Olwzewski, junior Destini England and sophomore Mary Katherine Tedder were among the hitting standouts. Tedder, the daughter of former Birmingham Barons player Scott Tedder, has committed to play at Texas. Bonamy is headed to Notre Dame, Olwzewski is committed to Auburn and England has committed to West Florida
“I’m not so concerned with our record, more with team chemistry,” Hawkins said. The Lady Jags have a full middle school roster but just eight players on the junior varsity. Her varsity really has no subs, but she’s loath to move any up just to have them sit on the bench or pinch run. “They need to be playing, they need to be getting better.
“We just need to stay healthy.”
Since fastpitch softball became an AHSAA championship sport, Hoover has won five big-school titles and Sparkman has also won five, all in the past nine seasons, and three in a row.
“There’s a lot of parity,” Hawkins said, “but right now Hoover is the team to beat. They are loaded, loaded, loaded.”
She also names Oak Mountain, Sparkman, Baker and Central-Phenix City as top contenders for a run at the 7A crown. But it comes down to the same thing – being at your best when tournament time arrives.
“You’ve got to peak, stay healthy, and play together.”