MONTGOMERY — Anyone who believes athletes are only as good as their last game obviously knows nothing about Cara Goodwin, Kayla Tillman and Darcie Wilson.
Steady final performances — Goodwin fanned nine last batters, Tillman roped two last hits and Wilson threw out one last runner — or not, there's no way all three Good Hope seniors could ever be remembered solely for a 4-1 loss to Winfield in the consolation bracket of the 2013 Class 3A State Softball Tournament.
Rather, the talented trio should forever go down in Raider lore as the grittiest of competitors, the best of friends and — most importantly — as proven winners.
Throughout their illustrious prep careers, Goodwin, Tillman and Wilson made it habit to end their seasons on the state's biggest stage. The three had their hands in the Good Hope girls basketball team's back-to-back trips to Birmingham in 2010 and '11, as well as the school's consecutive state softball appearances in Montgomery the past two seasons.
And while these girls donned the Red and White, there were never any worries about limping into the playoffs.
That was never more evident than the 2011-12 winter and spring seasons, when Goodwin, Tillman and Wilson were key cogs in the greatest year in the history of Good Hope girls athletics. Led by Tillman and All-State point guard Nina Mills, the basketball squad racked up a school-record 33 wins, only for the softball team — paced by pitcher and catcher battery Goodwin and Wilson —to pile on a school-record 43 victories.
While Goodwin, Tillman and Wilson have been at Good Hope their entire prep careers, fellow senior Savannah Fendley closed out hers as a Raider after transferring in the middle of her junior year. Despite the late start, Fendley was immediately welcomed with open arms, eventually fitting in perfectly with a group of goofy girls she now considers her teammates and sisters.