PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The North Bay Haven softball team is red hot, riding a nine-game win streak heading into their district tournament.
The Buccaneers have found their stride at the right time, as they started the season 4-9 before winning nine of their last ten games in the month of April.
Perhaps their biggest win came on April 19, when they took down county rival Arnold 9-6 on the road.
Junior first baseman Bailey Stokes said that it was winning that game that gave them the confidence to move forward into the rest of their regular-season schedule.
“It all really started with Arnold,” Stokes said. “Because we’ve always had that rivalry with Arnold, and us playing 110% out on the field and us having good at-bats we all pulled through. Like if the top of the lineup didn’t do well, the bottom of the lineup picked us all up, and we played really solid defense.”
A big part of North Bay Haven’s success has been 8th grader power hitter Kaylee Goodpaster, who has a 0.576 batting average, 43 RBIs, and 10 home runs.
Junior pitcher Samantha Velasquez moved to the school in the past year and said when she got there she was amazed at Goodpaster’s talent.
“When I lived in Texas, I didn’t see anything like that from an 8th grader,” Velasquez said. “Like when I came over here and first met her I was like, she’s an 8th grader, I thought that was so amazing like to be at that level as an 8th grader, that’s like incredible.”
Goodpaster’s skill with the bat is undeniable, but she said sometimes she has trouble hitting, purely because pitchers won’t put the ball anywhere near the strike zone.
“Well sometimes when they don’t pitch to me it gets a little annoying but I understand where they’re coming from and it does make sense in the times,” Goodpaster said. “But I feel like it’s definitely helped me grow and be more patient, and fix some of my mindsets because the pitches when they don’t pitch to me I need to stop swinging at bad pitches.”
The Buccaneers have an extremely young roster and just one senior in left fielder Alex Wilson, and she said now that the Buccaneers have found their rhythm, a deep post-season run is very possible.
“I would mean so much to me,” Wilson said. “This is going to be my last season playing softball, I won’t be playing ball in college so to be able to look back at this memory and know that we played our absolute best and gave it all of our efforts, that would mean a lot to me.”
North Bay Haven will begin district play on Tuesday, May 3, where they will face the winner of Bay and South Walton.