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Bulldogs softball exceeds outside expectations in 2022

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos by CAScoreboard Staff

CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – At the end of the 2021 campaign, heads hung low and tails were tucked as the Holtville High Softball team proved unable to garner any type of momentum. That changed in 2022 as the ‘Dogs posted a 21-16 mark.

“The girls knew they had potential to make noise this season,” said Reese Claybrook, Bulldogs coach. “They knew it wasn’t going to be just accidental, nor was it going to occur by happenstance. Our season was the culmination of hard work, mental preparedness, selflessness and an unmatched desire to reach our potential.”

And then the wins started rolling in. Holtville’s start to the 2022 campaign had the competition seeing green. The Bulldogs knocked off Central Clay (10-3) and Benjamin Russell (12-2) in the opener. Claybrook added that these two wins “cemented in our girls minds that all we had done hadn’t been for nothing and their hard work was paying off.”

Paying off in dividends: Taylor Price tossed her first no-hitter in a 15-0 win over Pike Road. Victoria Bullock brought the drama, perfectly placing a squeeze to walk off Thorsby 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh.

Reagan Thorn went beast mode and batted for the cycle on a 4-for-5 outing as the Bulldogs turned away Trinity 21-14. All of their success led to a reversal of fortune as the Bulldogs knocked off Jemison 18-13 to secure their first area win since 2019.

Keep in mind sports fans, this bunch of Bulldogs took the field sans seniors with only two juniors.

Claybrook: “I couldn’t be prouder of the season our girls had. I was ecstatic to see their onfield success; however, my true joy was seeing the people they are becoming. Being able to watch this group grow both on and off the field, being able to watch them exceed expectations, and most importantly, being able to watch them learn that hard work will always be the key to success.”

The Bulldogs proved they brought more to the diamond than a bark in 2022 knocked off Catholic 6-5 with a two-out rally sparked by Kennedy Bradshaw, Bailea Boone and ultimately the walkoff double by Thorn.

Holtville survived the area tournament to advance to Regionals where they swung for the fences on Day 1. The Bulldogs knocked off Shelby County 10-6 thanks to Goff and Thorn banging out a two-out, three-run home run. Unfortunately, the season ended in a 5-3 loss to Clay, despite Price holding court in the circle and Goff going yard for the second time in so many days.

But that loss didn’t have time to linger as the Bulldogs got back to work building toward 2023. Claybrook and his coaching staff had his band of Bulldogs back in the weight room June 6, essentially less than a month after the regional tournament loss.

Claybrook: “I firmly expect this to be one of the best summers we have ever had as a program. The girls, along with the coaching staff, were able to see the results of hard work payoff last year. However, we all understand that there is room for improvement for our program. We know what our talent is capable of, but moreso than that, we know that we must outwork our opponents to be able to continue to progress as a program.”

Holtville – as part of the most recent AHSAA realignment – will have their mettle tested early and often in area play leaving familiar foes Elmore County and Marbury to jump into 5A Area 4 and compete against state tournament qualifier Brew Tech, Charles Henderson and Greenville.

Claybrook: “We find ourselves in quite the fortuitous position for the upcoming year. This past season we did not have a single senior on the roster. We are returning a group of girls that were able to figure out ways to get it done with their back against the wall on many occasions. They know each other’s strengths as well as how to play so that they can minimize on any shortcomings. Continuity throughout the lineup, along with some extremely talented junior varsity players who will be moving up, should put us in a position where we have the ability to compete with anyone who takes to the opposing dugout.”

I couldn’t be prouder of the season our girls had. I was ecstatic to see their on-the-field success; however, my true joy was seeing the people they are becoming. Being able to watch this group grow both on and off the field, being able to watch them exceed expectations, and most importantly, being able to watch them learn that hard work will always be the key to success, is truly what makes me the proudest of them.

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, managing editor, currently working for the City of Tallassee as a Public Information Specialist and grant writer.

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