Northside softball coach Brandon Jenkins said during the summer that his upcoming Lady Patriots team had a chance to do something special. The potential was evident, but it was what Northside did for the entire season that was truly special.
The Lady Patriots were juggernauts in Class 4A this fall, going 34-3 while duking it out with some of the state’s best teams in all classifications. The team’s 34th victory, a 6-0 shutout against Stephens County, gave Northside its first state championship in program history.
As a result of Northside’s utter dominance for the entire 2017 campaign, Jenkins has been named the 2017 All-Bi-City Fall Softball Coach of the Year.
“They were not going to take anything less than a state championship,” Jenkins said. “They were willing to put in the work in the offseason. We only lost three games all year and just dominated from the beginning of the season until the end.”
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For Jenkins and his players, the road to the 2017 state title began in 2016. Northside advanced to the state championship series that season, ultimately falling to Central-Carrollton. The loss was undoubtedly a tough one to get over, but Jenkins made it a teachable moment to his team.
“I told the girls after last year, ‘Remember the score,’” Jenkins said of the 3-1 loss to the Lady Lions. “I said, ‘That won’t happen again.’”
To Jenkins’ credit, it did not.
Northside only lost two games in the regular season then made quick work of its opponents in the Region 1-4A softball tournament. The Lady Patriots then breezed through the opening two rounds on their way to the quarterfinals.
Once that double-elimination tournament began, the Lady Patriots hardly ever flinched. They dominated all the way to their championship series against Stephens County, a team Northside beat earlier in the tournament. The Lady Patriots suffered a uncharacteristic 2-0 loss to start the day before coming back with a dominant 6-0 victory to clinch the title.
Jenkins said his preseason confidence in his squad stemmed from their bond with each other.
“We have a great group of girls. They love each other, and we love them,” Jenkins said. “There is nothing they wouldn’t do for each other.”
For many championship teams, there are clear stretches to a season where a team encounters bumps and bruises that make a title run look somewhat questionable. From the outside looking in, there were few if not no such hiccups for Northside as they hummed along through the whole season.
Jenkins’ players were able to follow his steady lead and ultimately claim the title, giving him his first championship as a coach after winning two as a baseball player at Columbus High School.
“The girls stayed focused,” Jenkins said. “They determined we were going to get back to where we were last year and that we were going to finish it. They did just that. We dominated offensively and defensively.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports