At Clarkdale High school, softball is king, or rather, queen.
Always a contender, the Bulldogs are regularly in the mix for state-titles. However, after losing star pitcher Alex Smith from the 2010-11 season, it wasn’t clear how Clarkdale softball would perform during the fast-pitch season.
It actually wasn’t until the third week of the season, during the Harrison Central Tournament when it became apparent the Bulldogs could be good — really good.
“We really saw it then when we beat three really good teams,” said then-assistant coach Britt Bennett. “We beat Poplarville, who had one of the best pitchers in the state, we beat George County and St. Patrick’s, who had put us out of the playoffs the year before.
“On the way back from that tournament, all of the coaches were pretty much talking to one another saying ‘we are going to be pretty ok this year.’”
Clarkdale continued its success into district play rallying behind a talented lineup at the plate, as well as a solid performance from Abby Roberts in the circle. Roberts made the switch from catcher to pitcher in order to replace the departing Smith.
“Abby just worked her but off all winter to get ready for the season,” Bennett said. “She was out there working every day, and she just willed her way into become a good pitcher for us.”
It wasn’t just Roberts, as the Bulldogs worked their way as a team to a 31-3 record and as well as a 2A state championship.
With six departing seniors from last year’s title-winning team, Bennett said it would be a challenge to repeat as champions. But if history serves as any indication, the Bulldogs will be right back in contention this season as well.
“We are really excited about next year,” Bennett said. “We are working hard, lifting weights and working on pitching. We will have another tight-knit group next year, and hopefully we can be successful.”