Jaguars softball coaches honored with national award

Published 4:50 pm Friday, July 29, 2016

The Spain Park Lady Jags went 7-1 to win the Wetumpka tournament March 8-9 while giving head coach C.J. Hawkins her 600th career win. (Contributed)

Spain Park players and coaches celebrate coach C.J. Hawkins’ 600th win. She has recently won her 700th game, and the Spain Park coaching staff received a national honor. (Contributed)


Staff Writer 

After a season in which the Jaguars advanced to the final round of the Class 7A state tournament, the Spain Park High School softball coaching staff has been honored by a national organization.

The staff was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.

The staff includes coach C.J. Hawkins and assistants Allyson Ritenour, Ryan Thompson, Eric Gibbons, Chad Miller, Jason Zajac.

Four other regional staffs of the year were recognized by NFCA.

Spain Park compiled a 40-19 record in 2015, winning area and south regional championships before finishing runner-up in the state.

Jaguars players earned All-American and first-team All-Region honors from NFCA.

Shortstop Mary Katherine Tedder was named second-team All American—Spain Park’s second softball All-America—while Tedder and third baseman Kynadi Tipler were named to the NFCA South Region team.

Hawkins, who has coached varsity softball for 21 years, including nine years at Spain Park, said she was glad the entire staff was honored, and included the program’s players, parents and administrators as deserving of recognition.

“We couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “The girls did a remarkable job.”

Hawkins picked up the 700th win of her career during the 2015 season, but she said her most significant accomplishment has been helping players further their careers.

“What I’m proud about is our girls and their ability to play at the next level,” she said. “Playing in college was the best thing for me, and I communicate that to our girls that it is such an awesome opportunity.

“I don’t really coach for awards. I’m honored and humbled by it, but it’s about seeing the success of these girls.”

Hawkins said she was thankful to have the opportunity to coach at Spain Park.

“The approach here just breeds success,” she said. “It shows in all the programs.”

Hawkins said a NFCA committee reviews results from across the country and selects recipients of the honors.

The award will be presented during an NFCA National Convention in December in New Orleans.