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May 15, 2013

TALKIN’ PREP SOFTBALL: Overlooking Good Hope, Goodwin not the best idea

CULLMAN — She set the state mark for perfect games in a season, was Alabama’s only All-American in 2012 and will end her prep career in the top five of too many Alabama High School Athletics Association records to count, yet there will still be plenty of people at this weekend’s state softball tournament who have no idea who Cara Goodwin is.

It’s the No. 2 squad in Class 3A, has reached regionals five years running and is preparing to make its second state appearance in a row, yet there will undoubtedly be a throng of folks in Montgomery who have never even heard of Good Hope, much less knew they fielded a competitive varsity softball team.

Being overlooked is nothing new to the Raiders and their ace, however. As a matter of fact, they’re pretty used to it by now.

But that’s OK. If everything goes as planned this Friday and Saturday, opponents and softball fans won’t have any choice but to give the Good Hope softball program the respect it’s had coming for quite some time.

As I walked around the fields at Sokol Park in Tuscaloosa after the Raiders’ 13-inning walk-off win against No. 8 Cordova, all anyone wanted to talk about was Faith Sims, the Blue Devils’ sophomore pitching sensation. Complete with a tall frame, stout build and slap-happy windup, the prototypical ace will most certainly wind up on a college diamond one day — but still, I ask, what about Goodwin, who is set to join UAB’s rising program later this year?

Was I really the only one who noticed she topped her counterpart in strikeouts 15-12, as well as in runs, the most important statistic of all, 1-0? And who needs Sims’ slaps when there’s Goodwin’s grunt, a sure-fire sign she’s coming at you with everything she’s got.

As it turns out, Good Hope coach Wayne Harris noticed, too, but he chalks the discrepency in attention his standout receives compared to the state’s other top-notch pitchers simply to location.

“Smaller schools in bigger markets are always going to get more ink,” he said. “Cara is in a little school that is kind of overshadowed by the big school downtown.”

Harris is none too concerned with ink in any newspaper or other form of media, though. He’ll be able to turn to the record books as proof of just how special Goodwin was from the pitcher’s circle throughout her illustrious prep career.

Heading into this year’s state tournament, Goodwin already has top-five career totals in innings pitched, strikeouts and shutouts to go along with her best-ever season mark of perfect games (seven). Her 13 no-hitters in 2013 also ranks second, just one shy of how many Sarah Sigrest hurled for Daphne in 2008.

“You look at her numbers, you come see her play, it all balances out in the end,” Harris said of Goodwin. “When she does finish up her prep career this weekend, we’ll get to see her name in the record books for her various accomplishments, whether it’s on the state level or the national level.”

Goodwin isn’t the only one Harris would like to see in the record books. By Saturday night, his underestimated, overlooked bunch of Raiders (41-8) could go down in history as this season’s 3A champs.

Doubt it’ll happen? Join the crowd. Just don’t be surprised when they prove you wrong.



% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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