Summer break didn’t last long for several sports teams and athletes around the state and that held true for the Hatton softball team.
Just a few weeks after ending their season at the Northwest regional tournament, the Hornets were back at it, hosting a play date tournament on Monday.
“The nature of high school sports these days there just isn’t time for a break anymore,” said Hatton head coach Denton Bowling. “These play dates are a good way for the kids to kind of put the past season behind us and start focus on the next.”
The Hornets hosted a tournament Monday that included themselves along with Russellville, Haleyville, Danville and Lauderdale County.
“Anytime you get a chance to get out there and compete it’s a good day,” Bowling said. “You look at the teams we had out there, all of them were in the regional tournament last season. The fact that we were able to bring them all here I think speaks volumes about our program.”
The Hornets divided their program into teams filled with a mix of varsity and JV players. Bowling says splitting up in the summer is among the most valuable things his program does.
“Being able to do split squad is probably one of the most important things we do as a program,” he said. “We’re able to get young kids varsity reps that may not get actual varsity reps for a couple of years. There’s no experience better than experience.”
Hatton spent a lot of time Monday working in different pitchers, using six total throughout the day as they work to build a pitching staff.
“Baseball and softball are different as far as overthrowing but you still have to build a staff,” Bowling said. “The days of being able to use one pitcher in softball are long over.”
Hatton also spent time trying to figure out how to replace Mallory Lane, a four-and-a-half-year starter and multi time All-state player in the middle of infield.
“We return a lot of players but she’s a tough one to replace,” Bowling said. “You look at last season, Maddie Heflin and Chloe Gargis both did a great job at third base, so how can we get them both on the field. I thought Maddie did an excellent job playing second base and maybe that will be a move we can make.”