RONDA — “With the record we had last year and the return of as many players as we have,” East Wilkes Coach Bradley Hayes said, “our expectations are high.
“We’re definitely looking forward to a good postseason run.”
The Cardinals finished 23-5 a year ago, getting into the third round of the playoffs. Hayes said it’s “one of the tough parts for me” to keep his team focused on the regular season after last year’s run.
“One of the ways we can do it is to break it up into tournaments; three- or four-game segments,” Hayes said. “We look at playing a three-game or a four-game tournament until you’ve finally played 24 games.
“We just focus on the next game.”
Hayes said after last season’s success, most of the teams on their schedule “are going to be gunning for us.”
Hayes said coaching this group is very enjoyable. “Not only do we have good athletes,” he said, “but all the girls are very good, young ladies. It makes it much more fun going to practices and games. I’m blessed in that fact.
“We’re just really one big family.”
The Cardinals have played Alexander Central and West Forsyth and have teams like Glenn and a tough conference schedule that includes up-and-coming Elkin twice.
“We wanted to schedule as many large non-conference schools as possible,” Hayes said. “Win or lose, it prepares us in some shape or form.”
East Wilkes also will travel to East Carolina University for a tournament Easter weekend.
East Wilkes softball at a glance
Coach: Bradley Hayes, 9th year
Conference: Mountain Athletic
Last Year’s Record: 23-5, lost in 3nd round to West Wilkes
Returnees: Adrian Pardue, 2b, Sr.; Ali Sparks, rf, Sr.; Ashley Wagoner, 3b, Sr.; Kennedy Lester, 1b-p, Sr.; Brandi Parks, p-1b, Jr.; Molly McCollum, of, Jr.; Sydney Johnson, of, Jr.; Caitlin Macemore, c, So.; Olivia Bullard, ss, So.; Taylor Tharpe, of, So.
Newcomers: Shanisha White, Util., Sr.; Brie Jarvis, if-1b, Fr.; Sam Shumate, Util., Fr.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.