Good Hope

Good Hope's Sidnie English delivers a pitch this season.

Tim Tucker likes what he's seen from his Good Hope softball squad so far this week.

In fact, the first-year head coach has no complaints at all about his team's preparation.

And that's made him one happy man.

"We've had some good days of practice," Tucker said. "Upbeat, energetic, a lot of hustle. I think they're really focused. We've got a four-game season now. The attitude and enthusiasm is what you like to see as a coach. That's been good."

The No. 7 Lady Raiders are confident and excited ahead of the Class 4A state tournament, which begins Friday at Lagoon Park, and will head to Montgomery for the first time since 2013 hoping to make a bit of noise fresh off a productive week in Tuscaloosa.

Good Hope (32-9) won the West Central Regional Tournament following a 3-0 showing at Bowers Park and currently holds a six-game winning streak.

The Lady Raiders will begin their quest for a state title Friday at 10:45 a.m. with a meeting against top-ranked Alabama Christian Academy — the Lady Eagles are led by pitcher Haley Pittman, who is committed to Florida — before facing either No. 5 American Christian Academy or Rogers at 4 p.m.

Depending on those outcomes, Good Hope could play another game at 7:30 p.m. or earn some rest before Saturday.

No. 2 Holtville, No. 3 North Jackson, No. 4 White Plains and Dale County round out the field.

Despite those many obstacles, Tucker knows his team is capable of putting up a terrific fight — just as it has all season long.

"Our girls are excited for a chance to play the No. 1 team in the state," he said. "There are eight teams in Montgomery, and they know they're one of the best eight teams in the state. They really believe that. The leadership on this team — of our five seniors — is hard to match."

One of those five seniors is shortstop Skylar Tucker.

And she fully echoes her coach's — and dad's — sentiments.

"When we went to the beach and beat the No. 5 team in 7A (Central-Phenix City), that showed us how dangerous we can be," she said. "However, we tell each other at practice, 'We can be beaten at any time by anybody, and we can beat anybody at any time.'"

To beat the aforementioned collection of great teams, Tim Tucker knows what his squad must do.

And it's not much different, if at all, than what's gotten Good Hope to this point.

"We just need to continue to pitch well and play with a lot of energy," he said. "And capitalize on the advantages we get with timely hits. We've done that, but we have to maintain it."

Bringing the energy shouldn't be a problem for Skylar Tucker and the rest of her teammates.

"We're all excited," she said. "We're losing sleep at night, because we're ready to play right now.  We need to play relaxed and with confidence. That's the biggest thing I preach, as do the rest of the senior leaders, 'You've got to go out playing your game.'"

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

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I'm an Auburn University graduate with a passion for sports, reading and diet Mountain Dew.