By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Good Hope’s Cara Goodwin entered her final season on the diamond with a chip on her shoulder and one simple goal in mind — completely dominate the opposition.
Once the dust finally settled on her 2013 campaign, it didn’t take very long to see just how dominant Goodwin truly was.
The former Raider ace excelled during her senior season, compiling a 41-8 record and 0.54 earned run average, leading her team to a No. 2 ranking, 42-10 record and two-day appearance at the state tournament in Montgomery.
She set a state record with an astonishing seven perfect games and hurled a remarkable 13 no-hitters. Of her 49 total starts, Goodwin tossed shutouts in 29 of them, including 15 during her team’s 19-game winning streak midway through the season. She allowed just 23 total runs on the year, while striking out a staggering 514 batters.
Combine that with her ability at the plate — a .396 batting average, 63 hits, four home runs, 46 RBIs and 38 runs — and it’s no surprise the University of Alabama in Birmingham signee took home Class 3A Player of the Year, Super All-State and First-Team Pitcher honors.
She might want to make space on her mantle for one more award, however, as Goodwin was tabbed by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as a member of the All-Region (South) First Team on Friday afternoon, making it the second year in a row she’s been named to the honorary squad.
Goodwin was one of two Alabama selections — the other being Sydney Booker from Bob Jones — to make the 15-person first team. Other representatives included players from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida.
Additionally, she was one of only 150 players across 93 high schools in over 31 states to garner recognition.
Raider coach Wayne Harris had a first-row seat during Goodwin’s career and said his former ace was every bit deserving of yet another accolade.
“It’s a really big deal to be recognized by the NFCA,” he said. “Our region has quite a few states in it. I think that goes to show you just how special she was. It might be a long time before we see someone put up numbers like that.”
Goodwin's latest honor makes her eligible for a spot on the NFCA's first team, second team or honorable mention High School All-American squads, which are scheduled to be released next Tuesday. She became the school’s first All-American with an first-team selection as pitcher last season.
What makes her season even more special is the fact Goodwin didn’t necessarily enter it 100-percent healthy.
According to Harris, travel ball and basketball weighed heavily on Goodwin’s inability to come into the softball season with all her strength built up. That combined with cold, bitter weather made the flamethrower have to make a little bit of an adjustment as the year wore on.
“She had to learn different things about being a pitcher,” Harris said. “She was able to do that, along with taking a big role in leading the other players this past season. She and the other seniors on the team did a good job being role models. Our future is bright because of her.”
Even though her prep career has come to an end, Goodwin’s softball career is just getting warmed up, as she’ll head to the UAB campus later in the year to take part in a bigger challenge.
Despite the new beginnings, Harris has complete faith Goodwin’s work ethic and desire to win will carry her through her four years with the Blazers.
“They wouldn’t have offered her if they didn’t see a great talent,” Harris said. “To me, she’s going to become a lot better because she’ll get more rest and more time to work on all of her pitches. It should be a fun four years to watch.”
Lions’ softball staff honored
Wallace State’s softball staff has been selected as the 2013 NFCA NJCAA Division I coaching staff of the year.
Under the coaching of Jayne Clem and assistant Tracy Grindrod, the Lions completed their 2013 campaign with a 55-12 overall record, including a securing its eighth Alabama Community College Conference State and District crowns.
Wallace State secured its second NJCAA Division I title with a 7-3 victory over Salt Lake Community College back in May.
The Lady Lions were led by four NFCA NJCAA DI All-Americans — pitchers Bree Blevins and Lindsey DeFee, infielder Kori Benson and outfielder Katie Gentle.
Blevins posted a 25-6 mark with 27 complete games to go along with a team-best 1.60 ERA and 231 strikeouts. DeFee added a 26-5 record with 153 strikeouts, a 1.84 ERA and 21 complete games over 202 innings.
Benson hit .352 with 35 extra base hits, including a whopping 23 homers, an .802 slugging percentage and 63 RBIs.
Gentle helped guide her squad with a stellar .461 batting average, 95 hits, 24 doubles, 73 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. She also smacked 16 homers on the season.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at email@example.com.