HARTSELLE — Pacing around the coach’s box, Christy Ferguson gradually established a trail in the dirt near the third-base line.
For the Hartselle High softball coach, the newly beaten path wasn’t part of a personal fitness plan — even though the constant movement could’ve doubled as a brief workout.
Ferguson was following her passion: Coaching.
With every quick lap, Ferguson engaged players, offering encouragement, advice, praise or constructive criticism.
“Coach Ferguson is definitely a hands-on type of coach,” Hartselle infielder Baylee Holt said. “She’s always working with us, trying to help us get better.”
That was apparent Wednesday afternoon at Sparkman Park.
Bob Jones rallied for three runs in the fifth inning to beat Hartselle 4-3, but until the final out was recorded — and almost 45 minutes beyond — Hartselle’s new energetic and engaging softball coach was, well, coaching.
“We’re going to get better,” Ferguson said. “The girls we have here, we’ve got the players to be pretty good. It’s just a matter of putting everything together and learning not to beat ourselves.”
Ferguson came to Hartselle after leading Falkville’s softball program to last season’s Class 2A North Regional.
Ferguson was a standout multi-sport athlete at Falkville in the late 1980s, where she starred on former coach Charlotte Allen’s basketball teams.
According to the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s record book, Ferguson is 26th on the state’s all-time scoring list with 2,552 points.
But the basketball star followed her coaching path to the ballpark, where the slow-pitch game of her high school days has been swapped for the defensively strategic fast-pitch game.
“I’m loving every minute of this,” Ferguson said. “I’m having fun. Hopefully, we can put everything together.”
Talking with players, parents and administrators at the ballpark, the vibes around the program were all positive, even though Hartselle has taken a few early lumps while playing a difficult schedule.
“We’ve got the right person in the job,” Hartselle athletics director Johnny Berry said. “Christy is a worker, and she’s good with the kids. She’s doing a great job.”
The debut hasn’t been flawless, but that’s to be expected with the schedule. Of the Tigers’ first 12 opponents, five are ranked in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A and 6A polls, and six have been ranked this spring.
And the row doesn’t get any easier to hoe. Class 5A No. 10 Hartselle has a couple of tough tournaments remaining, along with home-and-homes with state large-school powers like Sparkman, Bob Jones and Lawrence County.
“Playing all of these tough teams, it better pay off at the end,” Ferguson joked. “But seriously, to get better is why we’re doing it. Play the best to be the best. By the end of the season, I don’t want there to be anything we haven’t seen.”
The last statement isn’t lost on Hartselle’s players.
“I like playing the tough teams,” Holt said. “That’s how you get better. It’s all about how you’re playing at the end.”
Hartselle may not be in postseason form — at least not yet — but the Tigers (5-6-1) are holding their own with some of the state’s elite teams.
Against Class 6A No. 6 Bob Jones (6-5-1), Hartselle rallied from a 4-1 deficit and threatened to tie the score in the sixth and seventh innings.
Holt and Sarah Ellen Battles led Hartselle with a hit and an RBI each, while Kayla Faulk, Jada Hayes and Leah Stephenson added one hit each.
Kaylee Rose led Bob Jones with two hits, while Amy Carden added an RBI double.
The loss to a Class 6A state power didn’t dampen Ferguson’s optimism.
“We’re going to get there,” she said. “I’ve got faith in this team. They’re going to get there.”
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at email@example.com.
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