WHITE HALL — After beating Greenbrier on Monday to reach the Class 5A state championship title game, White Hall’s softball team entered Tuesday’s practice with a new attitude, even better than the one it turned around to earn the title berth.
After falling on some tough family-oriented times at the end of the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs won three playoff games to reach Bogle Park for the first time in school history, partially due to the change of attitude.
“This is not how we started practice at the beginning of the year,” White Hall coach Terri Smith said as she watched the Lady Dogs run through practice drills with smiles and laughter. “This has just started. This is how I like to see them, loose and enjoying themselves. They play better when they are loose. And we are going to have to play our best to win.”
It will be the final game for White Hall’s seniors, including Haley Baugh, who was selected Most Outstanding senior softball player.
“We (graduated) Thursday and after we (walked) we want to go up there and bring a state championship home,” Baugh said. “I just hope it’s not a nail-biter. But I guess that does make it more exciting. That’s what you play for. But as long as we get a ring it really doesn’t matter how we get it.”
Baugh is one of several key elements to White Hall’s success. Between the hard-hitting senior and junior Rachel Box, the duo has produced 72 RBIs with Box’s 41 pacing the Lady Dogs (25-8).
Ashley Wheelus is another key piece to the puzzle. Wheelus bats in the eighth spot with a batting average of .226. But Wheelus does the little things that make a big difference such as hitting behind runners and putting the ball in play.
It may be her role in the dugout that looms larger than in the batter’s box.
“I hit and I do pitching charts,” Wheelus said. “I am in the dugout telling coach what we did with which batter and where they hit it and what pitch they hit. For me, I’m pretty much going to put the ball in play. What I do is get things going for the top of the order.”
Not only is senior left fielder Jessica Ashcraft playing in a state title game for the first time, it will be her inaugural trip to Fayetteville.
As a senior, Ashcraft has a firm grasp of her role on the team.
“You have to be a role model,” Ashcraft said. “You have to keep your head up, no matter what, or you can bring the rest of the team down with you. For the last two weeks any game now could have been our last. I want to enjoy every minute I have left.”
Projected Starting Lineup
32-Abby Weaver, 2B
24-Sydnee Clark, P
11-Karia Hall, CF
15-Rachel Box, 3B
44-Haley Baugh, RF
14-Lindsey Williams, 1B
21-Kayla Reap, SS
9-Ashley Wheelus, DH
6-Jessica Ashcraft, LF
55-Madison Martin, C
No lineup available