SP coach hoping to build off milestone

Spain Park softball head coach C.J. Hawkins recently won her 500th career game April 3 at the Bob Jones Tournament in Huntsville, but to her, the story is not No. 500, but the quest for No. 1,000.

“I plan on being here until my 3-year-old (Emma Jordan) will see 1,000 at Spain Park,” said Hawkins.

Before coming to Spain Park in the summer of 2007, Hawkins posted a 484-139 record in 11 seasons at Clay-Chalkville, taking her team to the state tournament in Montgomery seven times. In order for Hawkins’ dream to come true at Spain Park, the Jags (9-21) will need to start winning games to keep up with her 44 wins a season average. Hawkins thinks that’s just around the corner.

“I don’t see anything but great things for the feature,” Hawkins said. “The resources are incredible. We have the capabilities of being a powerhouse a couple of years down the road, I think. The main thing is the mental toughness.”

Over the course of the past season, Hawkins said she’s seen an improvement at Spain Park, who was 7-35 last season. This year, the Jaguars won their first area game in school history, 1-0, over Pelham and have lost nine games by one run. Last year, the Jaguars struggled to find its offense.

“The biggest difference is run production and ability to hit. We were no offensive threat,” Hawkins said. “We didn’t have the ability to stop the bleeding.”

Hawkins is now trying to help adopt the softball players in the community, allowing Berry Middle School to use the Spain Park facilities and quadrupling the number of kids playing summer ball from seven to 28. She said she’s doing all she can since there is not a park league that feeds into Spain Park.

“Basically our kids have always been stepchildren in softball, that’s been the biggest challenge we’ve had,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins is beginning to see her dreams come to fruition, as she had her first Division I commitment from Spain Park this season in Maria Gulas, who will be going to Appalachian State.

The Jags, 1-3 in Class 6A, Area 11 will host Thompson at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Pelham at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Area play will conclude next week with two games against Oak Mountain.