Someone recently told me it would not be very long until football was no longer favorite high school sport in Elmore County. While it will a little bit longer, I do believe the gap is closing and it is coming from a sport people did not see coming.
While wrestling and baseball stand out, especially this time of year, the attention is rapidly turning to the softball field and for good reason. Softball in this county has taken big strides over the last few years and every program looks to be on the uptick again this season.
Some of the best athletes in the county are about to take the field for the first time as the softball season begins this weekend. No matter where I go, I expect to see full stands for every softball game because of the talent level the county teams will put out.
Tallassee is setting its eyes on the state tournament with one of the most lethal offenses in the state. There are a ton of names in that lineup for opponents to be afraid of but it starts at the lead-off spot.
Chloe Baynes may already be in the discussion for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Ms. Softball as just a sophomore as she continues to get her name in the record books. She posted a .669 batting average last season which is insane enough then Tallassee coach Pat Love said she has gotten only better.
Holtville lost its coach and its SEC-caliber arm but there are still plenty of reasons to watch the Bulldogs. They are loaded with young talent and led by two strong seniors in Brooke Cooper and South Alabama signee Bella Farmer.
Elmore County hopes to put an end to Holtville’s area title streak and new Panther coach Terry Nicholas feels pretty good about his group. The Panthers may take the biggest step forward in the county with some new faces plus one of the best power hitters in Madison Britt.
Under the direction of new coach Daryl Otwell, Wetumpka is ready to make a push back to the state tournament after falling one win shy in 2019. There is plenty of young talent, including eighth-grade pitcher Mya Holt who has already received high praise around the county. She and several other young Indians could help Wetumpka reach Lagoon Park a few times in the coming years.
Stanhope Elmore has built plenty of excitement of its own as the Mustangs have improved facilities and have more plans for the future. But they also should put a better product on the field as they look to make some more noise in the postseason behind ace pitcher, leadoff hitter and Grambling signing Neci King.
Despite losing some players to the aforementioned schools, Edgewood is set to make another run at an AISA state title behind coach Darryl Free.
There are so many other names and faces set to make an impact on the softball field in the county and all of them have a realistic shot at making it to Lagoon Park in May.
Sometimes I use this column as a way to entice fans to go out to these events but I already know fans will be there. Softball is going to be special in Elmore County this season and I would not be surprised to see the excitement from the community surpass what we saw this fall in football stadiums.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Herald.