Hagen Whiteard knew this was possible all season long.

Since the beginning of the softball season, the Horseshoe Bend coach has been saying she could see her team’s potential. She thought if the Generals could just put it all together, they could be a really solid team.

It seems as if Whiteard’s predictions have come true at exactly the right time. After winning the area tournament and defeating Central-Hayneville to start the Class 2A East Central Regional Tournament on Friday, Horseshoe Bend delivered one of its best efforts of the season to take down Thorsby, 5-0. The win advanced the Generals to the regional championship, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today against Leroy back at Choccolocco Park in Oxford.

“We’ve been telling them all season we saw their potential,” Whiteard said. “Before spring break, we were still having those moments where we were having those really bad innings and that would cause us to lose a whole game. Now those have disappeared, and we are playing very solid. To me, I feel like I’ve seen it all along, but I think everyone else is finally seeing it now.”

After finishing off Central, 14-3 in six innings, Horseshoe Bend immediately got to work against Thorsby, scoring four of its five runs in the top of the first.

Reagan Taylor led off the game with a single and she was followed by one from Danielle Mitchell. Abby Cheatam drew a walk to load the bases before a fielder’s choice — a force out at home — put the first out on the board. Leighann McWhorter then drew a full-count walk with the bases loaded, allowing the first HBS run to score. Cheatam then scored on a wild pitch before Alyssa Whiteard got a clutch two-out single to plate both Ivy Vickers and McWhorter.

Horseshoe Bend didn’t do much offensively after that, but Mitchell did smack a second-inning double and score two batters later on a wild pitch.

Horseshoe Bend had just five hits on the night and only one came after the first two innings.

“I think the long rain delay slowed us down a little bit at the plate but fortunately we had hit the ball well before that,” coach Whiteard said. “They came out ready. We struggled a little bit against Central-Hayneville. Sometimes our weakness is a slower pitcher we don’t do as well with. You would think we would be able to hit the ball better, but we struggled. We had a hard time being patient at the plate.

“Coming back, our seniors said, ‘You give it what you got.’ They had a little powwow before the game and they were ready.”

The 5-0 cushion was not only important because it ended up being the only runs the Generals scored in the win, but it also seemed to relax them both defensively and in the circle. Mitchell gave up just four hits in the complete-game shutout. She also struck out four Thorsby batters.

Defensively, HBS played error-free which is something it needed to see after committing three errors against Central in the first game.

“They only had a couple true hits, and everything else was pretty solid,” Whiteard said. “Danielle threw a good game, and we played defense behind her. Even Harleigh (Moss) bobbled one and still threw someone out, so as long as we’re staying with it, we’re going to be OK. I’m just pleased and I’m very proud of them and the way they played (Friday night).” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.