By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
GOOD HOPE —
Much like her signature riseball, Cara Goodwin has climbed up her school’s and state’s record books at a baffling pace. With the resume she’s built throughout a brilliant youth, travel and yet-to-be-completed prep softball career, Good Hope’s first All-American didn’t have to sign with UAB to be considered a Blazer.
Goodwin did so anyway on Friday afternoon, joining UAB’s ascending softball program by inking her national letter of intent on Friday afternoon in a jampacked Good Hope High library. The reigning Class 4A Pitcher of the Year and three-time All-State First Teamer was surrounded by family, friends, teammates, coaches and adminstrators as she penned her autograph on the dotted line.
“I’m just really excited because I know I’m going to be a part of a really good program with a bunch of good people around me,” Goodwin said. “And then having all my friends and family makes it even better for today. It’s been awesome.”
The Raiders’ Wayne Harris was one of the many coaches at Friday’s signing ceremony who has had the pleasure of watching the senior develop into the exceptional athlete and young lady she is today. To say he was proud of Goodwin wouldn’t do it justice.
“It’s a great reflection and accomplishment for her, a lot of years of hard work,” Harris said. “To be able to further her education and still play ball and get financial assistance, what better thing can you ask for? When you’ve got a good person, good student, great athlete, that’s what they play the game for.”
Good Hope has had a slew of female athletes sign scholarships in the recent past. In addition to Goodwin, Nina Mills committed to Martin Methodist (Tenn.) last fall, and Kayla Tillman submitted her letter of intent to Faulkner earlier this month. Harris said Darcy Wilson and Alannah Henke are also expected to “find homes” in the near future.
So is there something in the water at Good Hope that makes its girls so darn good?
Not quite. Goodwin chalked it all up to dedication and drive.
“I think we just really work hard for it,” she said. “That’s really it, our mentality. We really want it.”
Harris agreed with his superstar.
“They’ve got a compeitive nature amongst themselves. In the classroom, on the field, they want to succeed and do the best job possible no matter what they’re doing.
“Hopefully this generation learned it from a previous generation and will pass it on. You want to have a longstanding program that’s not one or two years hit-or-miss. You want 15, 20, 30 years.”
Of course, Goodwin still has one season left at Good Hope. Come springtime, she’ll be looking to lead the Red and White back to the state tournament and continue to rise through the state’s record books.
Goodwin will enter the 2013 campaign already securing top-25 season and career marks in wins (tied for fourth in a season, 18th in a career), most innings pitched (10th, 16th), strikeouts (13th, 14th), shutouts (13th in a career) and no-hitters (22nd in a career).
She put up the best numbers of her prep career this past spring and won’t change the mindset that sets her apart from the competition when softball kicks into gear early next year.
“I want to come out and dominate, basically,” Goodwin said.
Harris has had many senior classes come and go throughout his lengthy prep softball coaching career. He said he’s going to cherish having his ace in the pitcher’s circle for one more season.
“You never want to lose players, but that’s just part of it,” Harris said. “It’s a little, short window. I’ve been fortunate to coach her on the field since eighth grade. I’m just glad she found somehwere she wants to go, and that they want her, too.”
Longtime UAB softball coach Maria Townsend announced the signings of Goodwin and four prep standouts from Florida Thursday on the school's athletics website.
“We are extremely excited about our 2014 class,” Townsend said in the announcement. “We believe that we have a group of young ladies that will fit in well with our system and strive for excellence on and off the softball field. They are ladies of high character, and we believe they will make our program better as soon as they step on the UAB campus.
“We are also thankful for their families and know that they will support our program and stand beside us as we continue to take steps towards reaching our goal of being one of the premier programs in the country.”
The Blazers were 37-22 this past spring and made their third straight appearance at the NCAA Tournament. They had their best season yet in conference play, finishing second in C-USA.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.