LINCOLN -- The Lincoln High School softball team will face Ashville in the Class 4A West Central Regional Tournament in Tuscaloosa on Thursday morning at 10:30.
For the past four seasons, Lincoln has had to face off against several perennial powerhouses in 5A, including Springville and Mortimer Jordan.
With reclassification, the Lady Golden Bears won’t have to face those familiar foes, but head coach Chad Mullinax made it a point to let his team know the path to the state championship didn't get any easier.
“There is not much of a difference. There are some good teams in 4A,” Mullinax said. “4A is very competitive. Good Hope, White Plains, Cordova, those teams are good. We have seen them play a couple of times; it is not much difference. It is just getting there and getting it done.”
Lincoln (35-18-1) defeated Handley 14-0 to win the 4A, Area 9 Tournament last week.
The Lady Golden Bears have become region regulars. This will mark the fifth season in a row Lincoln has traveled to Tuscaloosa for the regional tournament, and it is Lincoln’s eighth straight season qualifying for the event.
The Lady Golden Bears have eight players back from last season’s team that advanced to regionals, but they also have several players that will experience postseason softball for the first time.
Mullinax said the tournaments they have played this season prepared them for what they will see in Tuscaloosa.
“I don't think the pressure of playing in the regional will be any problem,” Mullinax said. “They have been in pressure situations all year, even in the county tournament. … Winning a couple of one or two-run games in the county tournament and winning the area tournament. … I think the experience that they got has helped them all year.”
Strong pitching as well as hitting has been the recipe for success for Lincoln in 2019. The Lady Golden Bears have a pair of strong pitchers who have been consistent all spring in Callie Smith and Morgan Allison.
Offensively, Lincoln depends on Christavia Curry and Morgan Allison to set the tone.
Mullinax is confident he has the hitters to drive them in if they get on base. The Lady Golden Bears have eight players who are batting .300 or higher.
“It starts with them. They are quick ones. They get on all the time and they run the bases well,” Mullinax said. “We have big hitters behind them in Justice Green, who is our catcher that has seven home runs. We have Ashley Williams coming back from injury. We have McKinley Young back. Both of them have power.
“We have a good group of hitters that do their job a lot of times. They move runners when they need to and they are not selfish with it. They understand we have to score and they do what they have to do to get it done.”
Lincoln will face an Ashville (18-13) team that finished second in the 4A, Area 12 Tournament to earn a regional berth. Ashville assistant coach Shea Monroe is familiar with Lincoln. Monroe led the Lady Golden Bears to a school best 41-15 record.
“Coach Monroe was here two years ago, and the girls love him,” Mullinax said. “He is a motivator. He will have his team motivated. They are a good team. They are coming out of a good area with Good Hope, Oneonta, Fairview. They have a couple of girls on that team that can hit.”
Mullinax said if his team plays error-free, as it did against Handley, the Lady Golden Bears are going to advance to the state tournament.
“We worked hard all week at practice and preached to them all week that the team that makes the least errors is the team that's going to win,” he said. “If you get to this level, the further you go, the runners are going to be faster, the pitching is going to get better, if you make the plays in the field, you will win. Trust your bats, and you can't give good teams runs. That is what we have worked on all week.”