By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The return of the Brighton Lady Cardinals to the top of West Tennessee softball in Class 3A almost had the ideal ending.
Back in the Sub-State round facing the Collierville Lady Dragons, Brighton was trailing by a run with two runners on base late in the contest. Then the rains came forcing the umpires to call the game officially in favor of the Lady Dragons.
“It was heartbreaking because we had 10 seniors last year,” Brighton pitcher Seeley Layne said, “I didn’t want them to finish their season off like that. And especially with us having runners on base, we had a chance to win. So that made it even harder. We are motivated to come back and win and that loss was hard.”
Now Layne is the solo senior leader on Robin Jacobs’ Lady Cardinal roster. The 12th grade ace said the bitter taste of the Collierville defeat will push the roster of Lady Cardinals.
“I think we’re going to come in better,” Layne said. “Well, not better, I feel we’ll be more focused on going to State. Because last year started off slow and then we got focused on finishing out the season to see how far we could go. We didn’t make it to State last year. We were able to finish. So this year I feel like it will be better.”
Last season the Lady Cardinals won the District 13-3A regular-season and tournament titles. The 2016 roster will feature standout underclassmen like Ta’mya Johnson, Currie McIntyre and Haley Rider just to name a few. Layne said the transformation in 2015 came when the younger players got a shot at playing everyday.
“We just kind of changed up positions and put different players in different positions,” she said. “Changing the lineup up, we started to develop chemistry. We practiced better. Since we practiced better, we just had a better mindset going into games. And we wanted to do it for our seniors too. We were focused on them going to State.”
The motivation in 2016 for the Lady Cardinals will be to fully restore the Brighton reputation as a softball power in West Tennessee.
Layne will be the pitcher entering her fourth season with Brighton. The district MVP said she has good chemistry with her sophomore catcher McIntyre.
Layne will also be featured in the middle of the batting order along with teammates like Johnson, Gracie Poirier, Amanda Perry, Ryley Myers and McIntyre.
Layne said the Lady Cardinals know their mission and will try to avoid being in a similar position of the 2015 Collierville game. As the only senior on the team, Layne said she has been groomed to be a leader in 2016.
“Ever since my freshman year, he (Coach Jacobs) has depended on me,” she said. “I just started getting it last year. It all started to click for me to be a leader. And I have really good teammates who help me focus on becoming a good leader.
“Positive mindset and knowing you have teammates there for you,” Layne concluded. “Communication is a big thing for us.”