“We just really believe in togetherness. I would say that started back in July when we had 11 players travel to the Dominican Republic — that was a bonding experience,” Julie Brooker, head coach, said. “I would say that the strength of our team is that one through 12, when they were called upon stepped up for us. We had five or six different people lead us in batting or on-base percentage at some point this season, which it’s hard to beat a team like that.”
Long’s fellow sophomore, Sarah Margaret Mason, agrees that the team’s success was largely due in part to the production of every single player on the roster and the ability to push each other to work on the fundamentals, which Brooker stresses in practice.
“We always work hard and we work as a team. It’s not a single-person sport; everybody contributes, so it’s a team effort,” Mason said. “In my opinion, I haven’t seen another team that is as fundamentally sound on the field, and it pays off.”
For Murner, one of the team’s four captains along with lone senior Jessica Hayles and juniors Macy Watkins and Dixie Raley, the closeness of the team made the success this fall more meaningful, having put in the work with 11 other girls in practice every day.
“It feels so much better because we can share it and not take it all on our own. It was so good to have 11 other girls that were there behind me, and whatever we got we could celebrate together and not just on our own.”
The junior captain admits the runner-up performance this season shows that the GMC Prep squad is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“We’re all sisters, and I think even though it wasn’t what we wanted, it’s still an accomplishment and it was still closer than it was before,” Murner said. “It was nice to show we could make it back and we weren’t a one-hit wonder.”
Not only were the Lady Bulldogs not a one-hit wonder, sophomore Whitley Dunn believes they will come back next season even stronger — and with a purpose.
“We’re thankful for second place, but we’re looking forward to being state champions,” she said. “We all played our heart out in every single game, but it gives us more to look forward to for next year.”