By Thomas Sellers Jr.
This past fall Brighton Lady Cardinal senior Raygan Huffman was looking forward to the upcoming softball season.
Who could blame her? The Lady Cardinals were 2014 District 13-3A regular-season champs looking to advance further in the postseason. Huffman was also named that season’s MVP.
But her hopes and aspiration for a stellar season campaign on the diamond all came crashing down when Huffman had surgery on a damaged knee.
“Every moment, you don’t know when it’s going to end,” Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs said. “We didn’t have any idea in November. Then the doctor said maybe she can play a little bit. Then he said she might not be able to play at all.
“So when she does come in, she’s limited in what she can do,” he added. “But she does it to the very best she can do it. Even when she wasn’t playing, she was there for us.”
Huffman was there for her team on the field May 5 in Covington coming up with a clutch hit against rival the Munford Lady Cougars in the 2015 District 13-3A Softball Tournament championship game.
The senior’s RBI made the score 3-0, leading to a 4-0 victory and title for Brighton.
“Personally this championship means so much because we came so far as a team to get this,” Huffman said. “t the beginning of the season, we kind of had a rough start. We are a team. To get this far means a lot.”
Huffman said she fought back through rehab to get a piece of her senior season back. Her dedication seemed to give the rest of the Lady Cardinals inspiration to bring the title back to Brighton.
“As an example, I hope I have inspired them,” she said. “Nothing can hold you back from doing what you love. Softball is what I love. So I hope they feel the exact same way. I hope they know they can fight for what they love.”
Brighton pitcher Seeley Layne is loving the game more these days earning the MVP award for the district tournament.
“With Seeley, we gave up 1 run the entire tournament,” Jacobs noted. “She pitched every game in the tournament. She was 5-1 in the season. It all starts on the mound with her. That’s where we’re starting. She’s the one we’ve built our team around since she was a freshman. They all just played good behind her.”
With Layne in the circle, the Lady Cardinals defeated rival Munford 4-0 at Crestview Middle School Softball Field. The game was moved from the original district tournament site of Hardin County to Covington allowing the two Tipton County powerhouses a chance to settle the championship closer to home.
Brighton jumped out early to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Huffman drove in a run with a hit in the third inning to give Layne a 3-0 advantage to work with. The junior ace, who was also regular-season MVP for the league, neutralized the Lady Cougar offense inducing ground balls and fly outs.
An insurance run was added in the fifth inning when Marisa Moss drove in a run with a base hit. Layne recorded the final six outs and the Lady Cardinals claimed the district title and earned a home game in Monday’s Region 7-3A Tournament semifinals.
Overcoming a sub .500 March, Brighton raced atop the district standings with a solid April. Huffman said the transformation of the Lady Cardinals was sparked by one man.
“With Coach Jacobs, he’s our inspiration honestly,” she said. “Without him we couldn’t do this. As we come together as a team, we realize we play so much better as a team.”
Jacobs said all the credit goes to his girls buying into his coaching and executing to become champions.
“It’s good to be back to where we’re at now,” he concluded. “It feels good to bring that trophy back home. It’s been 3 or 4 years. We’d play good in the regular season and just couldn’t. These kids played great. We made some adjustment and my seniors were just great in everything. We’ve exemplified Brighton to the best so far.”