TC Central head coach Crystal Gooden believes despite the loss, the team gained a lot by qualifying for and making the trip to Troy.
“They feel like they are more legit competitors,” Gooden said. “They want to work harder. They want to get better. They want to make it further next year. Now that they’ve gotten a taste of what they can do, what they really can do, they think that we can make it all the way next year. We only lost one senior and everybody’s got at least two more years on the team. Their confidence is just through the roof. They’re really happy and I’m happy for them. I mean, I’m really proud of them. It’s nothing we [coaches] did; the girls just believe in themselves and they showed it on the field.”
Gooden hopes with the team making the South-Central Regional this season and scoring a 24-18 victory over Loachapoka, she might be able to recruit more players for next year’s team.
Tiarrial Duncan was thrust into the catcher’s position for their game against Wadley, but Gooden felt Duncan handled the position change exceptionally well.
“Tiarrial is a very versatile player,” Gooden said. “She can pretty much play wherever we put her on the field. We lost a couple of players. One of them was injured before the game and one of them had to leave last night all of a sudden, so with her being thrown into that position, I think she did a very awesome job.”
Having Duncan behind the plate seemed to have a calming influence on eighth grade pitcher Kayla Bell, who struggled at times with control on the first day of the South-Central Regional. Gooden explained that Bell’s improvement also had to do with Bell working on previous mistakes.
“Every chance she gets she practices,” Gooden said. “She practiced some when we were out yesterday when we left here. She tries to keep in mind some of those pointers that we give her. She didn’t lose her cool today. She settled down, and she got back with the program. She did well. She did very well today.”
Wadley jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, but as Gooden mentioned, the Fighting Tigers showed resilience. Bell and Nyah Garrett both scored runs in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 3-2 in the fourth inning.
Wadley came back to score two runs in the bottom half of the inning to push their lead to 5-2. TC Central answered with Bell scoring another run in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 5-3.
Even after Wadley added three runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning, TC persisted. Shantia Lee reached first base on an error at second base. Manvella Curry hit a grounder to third base, but the third baseman looked the runner back without making a play. Lee scored on a groundout by Destinee Garrett. Curry came around to score on a passed ball. Bell showed hustle in trying to beat the throw to first base on a ground ball to second base, but it was an impossible task. Try as they might, the Fighting Tigers simply couldn’t shake the five-run deficit in the end.
“They never gave up,” Gooden said. “They stayed in the game. I think they did a lot better than they originally thought that they would. I saw that they were very competitive and they really wanted to stay in the contest, but unfortunately we got put out. But spirits have been really high, the girls feel good, they can’t wait for next season.”