Horseshoe Bend has done well this season and in the end were rewarded for their efforts with a runner-up placement in area to reach the AHSAA postseason.
Being the runner-ups will put them in a situation where they have to face the winner of Area 7 from Class 2A; however, they’ll play the winner of the area on May 13 and 14. This season was a struggle at the start from a consistency standpoint and head coach Hagen Whiteard says that the coaching staff talked about how important it is to be consistent. Those talks came to fruition over the past few weeks.
“In the last few weeks we started playing with that consistency that allowed us to win some big regular season area games,” Whiteard said. “This gave us the confidence we needed to do well in the area tournament.”
Even athletically they’ve had a few players improve this season and really stand out as key components with the team. Whiteard says that many girls have improved in different areas.
“Brooke Milner has really stepped up with some big hits at the plate and she is becoming more confident on the mound,” Whiteard admitted. “The same goes for Caly Carlisle. Her bat has been hot lately and we can definitely rely on her to lead us from the mound.”
Outside of Reagan Taylor, Carlisle holds a .346 average with 17 total RBIs and six doubles. Carlisle also has an on base percentage of .454 while Milner bats a smooth .323 with an on base percentage of .560. Milner has been walked 22 times this season with 27 RBIs and six homeruns.
This isn’t the first time that the Generals have reached the regional tournament, but Whiteard says that the last time the Generals played in the state tournament was in 2017. It’s something that she wants to change.
“Our program has made it to the regional tournament several years in a row. I actually don't remember the last time that we haven't had a team present at the regional tournament,” Whiteard said. “The last time we played in the state tournament was 2017. This was the year before I came to Horseshoe Bend. I hope we are able to change that this year.”
Regardless of everything ahead, the Generals are one of the 32 teams still continuing their softball season and considering how many athletes, programs and people missed out on so much due to the COVID pandemic last year, the feeling of making it was still great.
“It is a great feeling advancing out of our area. In the past, it's been a back and forth battle with Reeltown over who would win our area but this year was different,” Whiteard said. “Our area included us, Randolph County, Ranburne, and Lafayette. Lafayette did not have enough players to play in the area tournament, but Randolph County and Ranburne both have good teams so we knew we would have to be ready to play ball to make it to regionals. It's exciting and fun to be able to play in playoff games again.”
The first game will take place next week and Whiteard says that she hopes the girls will show up and play their best.
“When each girl is playing at her best we are a fun team to watch,” Whiteard said.