By Blake Ells
Spain Park softball coach C.J. Hawkins has been chosen unanimously as the Over the Mountain Journal’s coach of the year.
The Jaguars came up just short of winning a state championship, falling in two games to Fairhope in Montgomery. Hawkins had no seniors on this year’s squad
“I’m very grateful for my players,” she said. “My parents. Our community. They all work really hard and we all have a vision. Any time that you can make it to that level, it’s a big deal. What this team did without having any seniors is a credit to my assistant coaches and our parents and players.
“I have a lot of respect for all of the coaches in this area, and we’re all working really hard,” she continued. “All of these coaches want the best for all of these players and we all feel very passionate (about) how great this sport has become and how exciting it is. Look at all of the DI and DII and NAIA teams in Alabama that are successful. It’s a hotbed. it’s a great sport for Alabama and it can be spectacular.”
The Jaguars won their area championship, one of the state’s toughest. They split six games with one of the area’s toughest foes, Oak Mountain, then managed to avoid the Eagles in the state tournament. The Spartans haven’t defeated the Eagles at Oak Mountain in six seasons.
“We had solid defense and great pitching and we played well together,” said Hawkins. “We out hit a lot of teams. We were hot at the beginning of the season and we hit what I call the ‘spring break and prom’ wall. Then we cranked it up toward the end of the regular season and our postseason was pretty magical.”
Oklahoma State commitment Annabelle Widra and Kate Campbell led the Jaguars on the mound. The former finished the season with a 23-8 record and six saves, while the latter posted a 15-3 record with one save. An Auburn commitment, center fielder Maddie Majors, was .477 at the plate this season with 73 hits, 47 RBIs and nine homeruns.
“We had a lot of consistent kids,” Hawkins said.
Expectations will be high in 2019, with the entire Jaguars roster returning.
“I feel like we’ll be very strong,” Hawkins said. “But we switched areas and it’s going to be just as tough, if not tougher. It’s all about who’s hot and who’s healthy.”