The Madison County High softball team is making history.
The team has advanced to the FHSAA Finals for the first time since 2001, when it lost to Cardinal Mooney, 5-0, in a Class 3A state semifinal.
After a shaky start, the Cowgirls, under coach Edwin Kinsey, put together a solid season and outscored their playoff opponents 26-8. They tangle with Fort Myers Bishop today at 1 p.m. in a Class 4A semifinal in Vero Beach.
Despite being on unfamiliar ground, the team has relied on a core group of five seniors to provide leadership. These seniors – Logan Groover, Kalli Morris, Tamala Brinson, Brooke Kinsey, and Rachael Webb – have played a pivotal role all season long, but they’re needed now more than ever.
“It’s important that we have that leadership going into (today’s game),” coach Edwin Kinsey said.
“It was tough early on because we played such a tough schedule against a lot of teams who made it to the finals themselves, but we’re battle-tested because of that. And now we’re in a groove.”
According to Kinsey, the decision to bring in former Madison County coach Tommy Garner as an assistant has really paid off. While the Cowgirls pride themselves in the way they swing their bats, Garner has added a defensive toughness that has proved crucial in the team’s success.
“We like to swing our bats,” Kinsey said.
“But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for coach Garner and the changes he has brought on the defensive side of the ball. That will be important for us if we want to win on Friday.”
While the Cowgirls enter the final four for the first time as a team, they have the advantage of having someone familiar with the landscape. Senior leader and Kinsey’s daughter, Brooke Kinsey, went to the Final Four as a sophomore when she played for Aucilla Christian.
Kinsey, who has hit nine home runs this season, will be able to prepare her teammates for the unfamiliar territory of the FHSAA finals.
“When I went as a sophomore, it was nerve-racking,” Brooke Kinsey said. “We just need to stay together and play our game. If we do that, I think we’ll be alright.”