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December 26, 2013

THE TIMES’ TOP 10 SPORTS STORIES OF THE YEAR (No. 6): Raiders’ Goodwin leaves behind unmatched legacy

Cara Goodwin’s name will forever be synonymous with Good Hope’s softball program.

And for good reason.

Goodwin followed up a sensational 2012 season with an even better 2013 campaign to etch herself firmly in the Cullman County record books as one of the best — if not, the greatest — softball players to ever take the pitching mound.

The Raider legend’s trophy case expanded ten-fold following  her senior season, which saw Goodwin grab a Class 3A Player of Award, a Super All-State selection — making her one of the top 10 softball players in the state — and first-team recognition as a pitcher on the 3A All-State Team as well.

She was also selected as an All-American pitcher by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association back in June for the second year in a row after becoming the school’s first-ever All-American back in 2012. Goodwin’s portrait was hung in the school’s gym over the summer, immortalizing her as one of Good Hope’s all-time greats.

Throw in All-Region first-team honors by the NFCA — also a second straight occurrence — and you’ve got one fine season.

Last, but not least, Goodwin inked a softball scholarship with the University of Alabama-Birmingham to continue a fine career that should only get better and better with time.

However, it might be hard to top what she doled out during her senior campaign.

The ace’s numbers were astonishing, starting with her state-record seven perfect games and near state-best 13 no-hitters. Goodwin tossed 29 shutouts, struck out an overwhelming 514 batters and allowed a mere 23 runs in 49 starts — she was 41-8 — which was good for a 1.36 earned run average. At the plate, she posted a robust .396 batting average, 63 hits, four home runs, 46 RBIs and 38 runs scored.

“She has worked hard every day. It’s not just from January to May. She works from January to December to get better,”  Good Hope softball coach Wayne Harris told The Times shortly after the end of the season. “What she has done on the field, not just pitching, her offense, too, but her pitching has been well beyond what anyone would have believed five years ago when I got to Good Hope.

“She’s one of those you hate to know she’s not going to be back next year. But that’s just part of high school and moving on to the next level.”

Goodwin perhaps solidified her standing with an outstanding performance in the North Central Regional Softball Tournament in Tuscaloosa, where the then-senior battled through a 13-inning thriller the first day, a 14-inning marathon the next and finished the two-day tourney with a whopping 41 innings and 46 strikeouts over the four-game span that secured the Red and White their second consecutive state tournament berth.

“That’s part of her demeanor and her attitude that I’m going to do whatever I have to do,” Harris told The Times. “The 41 innings over four ballgames, that is a tough, gritty competitor.”

It was Goodwin’s fourth state tournament appearance — two apiece in softball and basketball — over her four-year prep career.

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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