Softball: Smiths Station wants to be better tomorrow

The Smiths Station Varsity Softball team wants to rebound from last year’s disappointing 13-20 record and last place finish in the Area 4 standings. This year’s team is young but has a lot of talent. Five senior Panthers have signed letters of intent to play softball at the collegiate level this past December, during the early signing period. 

The Varsity Panthers are led by head coach Matt Stonbraker who is entering his seventh year as the varsity head coach. Right beside Stonbraker are his assistant coaches, Slade Stillwell and Olivia Humphries, who play a vital role in the development of the team. Stillwell is entering her fourth year on the coaching staff as the infield coach, and Humphries is still in her first year with the team as the pitching coach since joining in August of 2019. Coaching a softball team that carries the pride of their community, like Smiths Station does, and playing at the Class 7A level goes above the coaching staff and is important to have vital role-players off the field as well. Principal Brad Cook as well as Shana Johnson and Brian Nelson, athletic directors of female and male sports, are great contributors to not only the softball team but to all of Smiths Station’s athletics. 

The Panthers are a very young team this year that play in a competitive area (Class 7A, Area 4) and they have to grow up quickly this year. The team’s primary goal is to win a state championship, but Stonbraker doesn’t drive his girls to only have just one goal. The goal for the 2020 season is “to be better tomorrow than they are today.” 

Last year didn’t go as planned for the Lady Panthers, but the team has put last season behind them and is focused on this year. 

“The team is very humble. They work hard and put their noses to the grindstone,” Stonbraker said. “They are a fun group to coach.”

Leading the way for the Panthers this year is returning sophomore Kaylin Fincher who was close to being All Bi-city hitter of the year. Teena Morgan is in her senior season and is the heart and soul of the team who has been a leader for the team for many years. Alexis Cosgrove will put offensive numbers on her stat sheet, and Summer Lawrence will bring some speed and power to the lineup. 

Some positions of the team may be young and inexperienced, but the pitching rotation will have some consistency this year by returning all of their starters from last year. 

Opening Day is slated for Feb. 13 and the Panthers open up the first of three consecutive home games against Holtville High School from Deatsville, Ala. Stonbraker will hand the ball over to Teena Morgan to be the Opening Day starter. Following up Holtville is a double-header against Dothan High School and then Russell County High School on Feb. 17. 

Smiths Station will participate in the 2020 Auburn Varsity Invitational on Feb. 28 and The Gulf Coast Classic III on March 30 – April 1 in Gulf Shores, Ala. Area 4 games start with Auburn High School, who will play two times this year, first the Panthers welcome the Tigers to Smiths Station on March 3 and then the Panthers will travel up 280 to Auburn on March 26. Smiths Station plays rival Central High School once this year on March 10 in Phenix City.