After the completion of last season, her first as the new head coach of Ada High softball, Taylor Henry proclaimed a “New Tide” was coming to the program.
Henry and her Lady Cougars hope to continue that thought process when the 2019 fastpitch season gets started, when Ada hosts Tulsa’s Will Rogers at 5 p.m. Aug. 13 in a District 5A-4 doubleheader.
“Last year our big theme was New Tide. This year, we want to keep that same momentum,” Henry said at the team’s annual Media Day earlier this week at the Ada High Softball Complex.
Henry said heading into her second year as the leader of the Ada softball team, she’s preached the power of positivity to her players.
“One of the biggest things this year is we’ve preached positivity and relationships with your teammates. We want to be a family,” she said.
“We’re going to face adversity on this path to build Ada softball to be great. When that happens, we want that positivity to kick in,” Henry continued. “It’s not going to be easy, but building this program up is something we’re all sold out on.”
Make Ada great again. Hey, Henry and company may be on to something. Anyway ...
Henry has 17 players on the 2019 roster heading into the season. However, Ada is still going to be plenty young, with a combined 11 sophomores and freshmen in the bunch. She’ll count on her four seniors — Alyssa Colungo, Avery Brown, Torri Bray and Katey Read, a newcomer from Allen High School — to help lead the way for her young guns.
Colungo was the ace of the pitching staff in 2018, and she’ll continue that role with more confidence this season. Torri Bray will be her battery mate as the team’s catcher. Brown will play on the infield somewhere, and Reed will help shore up the Ada outfield.
“My four seniors have helped me lay the groundwork to build this program. They’re the ones that help me create the New Tide, and they’re the leaders behind it. They love being the ones that will be part of the group that started building this back up,” Henry said.
One of the biggest things Henry has noticed about her squad during the summer and preseason is that everyone seems to be having fun.
“I think the preseason’s been pretty good. They’re excited, and they love playing softball. I tell them all the time that fastpitch softball is a fun game. Enjoy it. Work hard, but enjoy it,” she said.
Henry — who will be assisted by coaches Shane Coker and Morganne Freeman this fall — said her team has a list of season goals posted on the locker room wall, some of which she wanted to keep a secret. She did say one of the things the Lady Cougars are aiming for is to win more games than the 10 victories they had in 2018. Of course, the ultimate goal is to one day get the Lady Cougars to the fastpitch state tournament — hopefully, sooner than later.
Ada is part of Class 5A District 4, which also includes Durant, Tahlequah, old rival McAlester, Glenpool, Tulsa Memorial and Will Rogers (Tulsa). The Lady Cougars will need enough victories against those opponents during the regular season to earn a playoff spot.
Henry said she and her team talk about the state tournament all the time.
“Everything we do is geared toward the state tournament. The way we stretch, the way we play catch, the way we run on and off the field — we do it all like we’re in the state tournament,” she said.
With apologies to the University of Alabama athletics, if things keep trending in the right direction for the Ada High softball team, someday the team’s motto of “New Tide” may change to “Roll Tide.”