Editor’s Note: This is the 15th part of a Top 20 series on the greatest moments for Lafayette High athletics. The focus of this week’s series is the 2014 softball team coached by Katie Jenkins.
There wasn’t much the Lafayette Lady Commodores of 2014 couldn’t do on a softball field. The team that won 24 games and advanced to the MHSAA Class 4A north half state title series thanks to great talent, and unity. It was the first team in school history to advance as far in the playoffs as they did, and Jenkins remembers the group fondly.
“It’s funny because I have new coaches who didn’t coach them because our staff turned over two years after them. But when Coach (Kathy) Worley talks about them, she says they just don’t understand, it’s indescribable,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “You just don’t understand how competitive they were. Their heart, their desire, just their competitive nature, it was unique for sure.”
Nine seniors lined the roster in 2014. Eight of them started in the field. The lone exception was shortstop Emily Robinson, who played just like a senior.
“Every position was a senior except for Emily and for Hope. She played some. All the seniors had played together, through competitive ball,” Jenkins said. “There wasn’t a weakness in the lineup, one through nine. They all had their moments and we could depend on them when they got up there that they were focused in on what they wanted. They could read the defense. You could teach them things like that. They knew where to put the bunts down because they all so mature together and played together so long.”
There was excitement heading into the season on the part of the coaching staff. Even though Lafayette lost some key seniors from a team that made the playoffs in 2013, Jenkins knew what she was working with.
“You are always upset to lose the seniors from the year before but we were not as discouraged to have to fill those roles,” Jenkins said. “We knew the juniors, even the ones who hadn’t played as much for us, were ready to step up and make this championship run. We knew there would a spot for them.”
Lafayette defeated West Lauderdale to advance into the north state title series. Jenkins fondly remembers their coach coming up to her after things were settled and congratulating her on how hard the Lady Commodores played.
“It was a big series and we were the underdog of the two. I just remember Avery McCullough, if you watched her pitch, you just knew she was ready,” Jenkins said. “She was not overpowering by any means but it was the location and the change of speeds that she had, as well as the defense that we had behind her. She could get them to ground out, to fly out, it didn’t matter. We would make the plays.
“I remember their coaching say that we had a good group of girls and they play and fight and that he wanted a group to coach like that,” Jenkins added. “For a coach to say that, even after they lost, you know that’s hard for a coach to have to swallow, for him to come to me after a game. This was the only team I’ve had that I called a squeeze bunt for and had the confidence to do it. And we won a game like that with a squeeze bunt with Moesha Phillips and Jada McIntosh coming in from third. That’s just what they did, they provided that confidence that made you feel like they were trying.