HAMPTON — The Lady Hornets enter 2019 with a solid roster, a new coach and many thoughts that relate to what could have been from the year before.
Hampton High was in pursuit of its first Georgia High School Association State softball championship in 2018 and was in contention for the title. However, they dropped the crucial games and finished third as a team in Class AAAA. Hampton softball pitcher Skylar Trahan remembers the end of the season.
“It definitely was hard moving on from losing when we were so close to the championship,” Trahan said. “But after that loss, we all worked hard in the offseason to make sure we make it back to Elite Eight this year.”
The offseason is a perfect time for athletes to work on ways to keep teams unbalanced. It’s a time that Trahan takes seriously as she continues her progression towards college.
“I have been working on my pitching and making sure I have a good spin on the ball and improving my speed,” Trahan said. “I was also working on the mental game because that is a big part of the game. Making sure I stay calm and positive throughout the games.”
Trahan is not only looking to remain positive. She’ll have a new coach to work with this year, but it’s not someone who’s exactly new to the school.
“Everyone on the team knew coach Chris Huffman from him coaching baseball and being at most of our games supporting us in previous years,” Trahan said. “I have always been close to Coach Huffman, he is a great person overall. On the field, he pushes every single one of his players to be the best they can be. Off the field is he always there for you whenever you need him. He has been one of the biggest supporters to this Hampton softball team from the very beginning when the school opened.
“The guy knows what he is talking about and we all have the same goal as Coach Huffman,” she continued. “That is to win the first ever state championship for Hampton High School.”
Even though there’s a new head coach on the sidelines, Trahan says that her motto of taking it one game at a time will continue into this season.
Along with Trahan, players like E’Mya Munford also return to the field in 2019 but they’ve gained experience in knowing what it’s like to play in Columbus for a state title.
“We are all working hard at practice and pushing each other to be the best we can be,” Trahan said. “We lost some great seniors in the 2019 class, we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did without them. The freshman class that we have coming up will definitely help us out a lot and they will fill the spots of the seniors we lost.”
Speaking of seniors, Trahan is one herself this year and the vibe between all the seniors this year leads to hard work. From Trahan’s viewpoint, none of the returning seniors spent the summer idling and waiting for training. Instead, they all played travel ball and stayed in shape in various ways for the season.
But the fact that the Lady Hornets must prepare for a chance at the state title is still a daunting task. Last year, the Lady Hornets played East Coweta who boasted the No. 1 player in the nation and even Locust Grove who came off a Class AAAAA state title in 2017 and went back to win it all in 2018.
However, nothing beat standing in Columbus amongst the top teams of the class. Trahan said she believes their youth combined with the fact they weren’t 100% ready for high-pressure games played a factor in their loss. But, that’s not to say this year couldn’t be different.
“Now that we have been to the state tournament and know how the tournament works and what the pressure feels like, I think we will have a better approach and outcome of what we did last year,” Trahan said.