The competition only gets tougher from here.
That’s the message that Sylvan Hills softball coach Justine Gladden had after the third inning of Tuesday’s game two of a conference double header against North Pulaski.
After a 14-0 win against the Lady Falcons in game one, Gladden said her team was "going through the motions".
After a firm lecture, the Lady Bears woke up and scored 11 runs in the next three innings to win 12-1.
"There was no action," Gladden said. "It was like we were in cruise control."
Gladden told her team after the double-header sweep that there are no more easy opponents. State tournament begins next week.
The Lady Bears finished a perfect 14-0 and have locked up a top seed in the state tournament and will play the four seed in the West. That opponent will likely be either Alma or Morrilton. Sylvan Hills beat Alma and lost to Morrilton in nonconference matchups earlier in the year.
The conference championship comes in Gladden’s first year as Lady Bears head coach including a double-header sweep of her former employer and alma mater Jacksonville. Gladden scheduled the Lady Devils again this week for a state tournament tune-up.
"I think they want blood," Gladden said.
Gladden’s platform in the coming days will be getting out to a good start.
"We always try to feel out the first inning," Gladden said. "We are going to need to get off to a good start when the teams get tougher."
They are about to get tougher very quickly.