BY HARRISON TARR
FOR THE OBSERVER
At the beginning of every season, high school softball teams from all parts of Alabama share a common dream: winning a state championship and bringing glory to their school; for most groups, securing a title is just that, a dream. The reality of the matter is that some groups are talented, others are destined and a select few walk the line between those two categories.
For the Beulah softball program, 2022 has been a season of both talent and destiny; following the conclusion of this week’s area championship tournament, the Bobcats are area champions and have a clear road to the big dance placed at their feet.
According to Head Coach Stan Pepper, the black and gold still have plenty of work to accomplish before they’re ready to compete on the highest stage.
“We’re trying to get better every day,” Pepper said. “We’re still not where we want to be, but I don’t want to be where we want to be right now. We’ve got two more weeks to practice and to play games.”
The Bobcats’ skipper noted that his group still has time to correct their minor mistakes before navigating the toughest portion of the schedule.
“We’re looking to peak in two weeks,” Pepper said. “If you go to bed at night and you feel 100 percent comfortable, that’s really not a good thing. You’ve always got something you can work on.”
Beulah’s road to getting better begins with the basics: conditioning for and adapting to the rapidly changing Alabama weather.
“We’ve got to get in better shape,” Pepper said. “This weather is turning hot and I can tell it affects some of our girls. We’ve got to do a better job of getting into shape and taking care of our bodies.”
Apart from a certain uptick in cardio and the continued work in the weight room, Pepper will also be helping his squad in adapting their approaches at the plate, given that hits are about to become even more scarce.
“Hitting is always an issue this time of year,” Pepper said. “We’ve just got to go back and hone in on our bats; we’re doing some things technically that we can correct, we’ve just got to go back and concentrate on them.”
Pepper’s critical attention to the Beulah bats is likely an effort to provide continual run support to the highly-touted duo of Katie Morris and Brandy Phillips, who have manned the circle throughout the spring.
“We’ve got a pretty good pitching staff,” Pepper said. “With (Morris) and (Phillips), I’m hoping that’s the trend for the remainder of the year. With both of them pitching as well as they are, we should have a chance in games that we’re going to have to play here in the future.”
When given the opportunity to speak on his group’s game plan going forward, Pepper referred back to what has been the Bobcat’s mantra throughout 2022: one pitch at a time.
“Literally pitch by pitch,” Pepper said. “These games that are coming up, the little things are going to be the difference between winning and losing. It’s literally pitch by pitch, hit by hit and run by run. I know that’s coach speak, but coaches speak the truth sometimes.”
The leader of the black and gold is keenly aware of the challenge that lies ahead of his group; there is no wavering in confidence.
“There’s some good teams out there,” Pepper said. “There’s some teams that — if we make it where we want to make it — are going to make it a very challenging time for us, but we’ve faced challenges in the past. When we’ve done what we’re able to do, we’ve been very successful.”
With the area championship behind them, crunch time has officially arrived for the Bobcats of Beulah high school; the Observer will continue to keep up with the group as they navigate the waters of the ASHAA playoffs.