The White Hall Lady Bulldogs have experienced something that doesn’t happen to many ball clubs – winning consecutive state championships.
“It definitely doesn’t happen to many people,” White Hall head coach Terri Smith said. “I feel very fortunate.”
Smith has been with the White Hall softball program for 17 years. She was an assistant coach when the program began.
“We’ve always had good teams,” Smith said. “Last year, we were kind of seen as the underdog and beating teams in the state tournament that we weren’t supposed to.
“But this year, everybody was looking at you and a large target on our backs.”
White Hall made it to the state championship by defeating last year’s runner-up Vilonia 5-2.
Abby Weaver, coming off a two-run home run game against Alma in the quarterfinals, launched another shot in the third inning after Lauren Graves drove in two runs on a single. Weaver was 3 for 3 with two doubles.
“Some of these girls have already experience it once and now they have experienced it again,” Smith said. “They know they are part of a lucky group.”
White Hall defeated Greenbrier 1-0 in the 5A state championship at Bogle Park in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas.
Senior Sydnee Clark pitched a complete game, allowing just one hit with one walk and four strikeouts. Clark will play softball for Arkansas Tech in the fall.
After the game, Smith said the state championship and the win over Benton were the highlights of the year.
“We play Benton every year,” Smith said. “Usually we don’t win because they are a really good team.
“Benton kicks our tail but it is good practice. But this year, we actually beat them and our girls were pretty ecstatic afterwards.”
White Hall defeated Benton 5-0 in the Drew Melton Memorial Tournament at the beginning of the season. Benton finished the season as the 6A state runner-ups.
“We try to schedule these tough non-conference games because it helps prepare you for the state tournament because your goal is to get to state,” Smith said.
Smith compared it to when they defeated Bryant a couple of years ago.
“It gives them a little bit more confidence going into the state tournament,” Smith said. “We try to find some really good teams to play.”
White Hall will lose four seniors to graduation but only two starters – Clark and Rachel Box. Box’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth in the state title pushed across the go-ahead run.
“They both have talked about going to the next level,” Smith said. “They both have extremely good work ethic.
“They are never going to be the first ones to leave. They will one more you to death. They are really good all around ball players.”
Box will attend the University of Arkansas in the fall to play softball.
“You got to have those kids who don’t want to leave if you want to be successful,” Smith said. “They knew what they had to and they are headed in that direction.”
White Hall has a good chance to be successful next year, as they will have four seniors and 10 juniors in the program.
“I think we will have a big strong ball club, but the target will be eve larger,” Smith said. “It is not going to be handed to you.”
“We will have to dig deep and work for every win.”