Chris Barrus wasn’t quite sure what he was going to get out of his young team that had just four returning starters.
But the Fulton softball coach was hoping things would go well enough for his team to finish in the top portion of the CMAC and contend for a district title.
The Pirates exceeded those expectations this spring.
Fulton won CMAC and Division 4 district titles this spring – the first in school history – under Barrus, who is the softball coach of the year. The Pirates finished 32-7 and had a 13-win improvement in a spring that featured historic accomplishments.
“I did not expect that,” Barrus said. “Did I think that we had a good chance of getting a district title? Yeah, as the year went along (I did). But not to win a league title and then win a district title and then able to get to a regional final. I was very surprised by that.”
Fulton had big holes to fill with its entire infield departed from the 2015 team that finished 19-13. Barrus put his focus on getting his younger group to believe in themselves and believe they were capable of having success.
That worked with a smaller senior class led by standout senior pitcher Connor Proctor leading the way and getting the rest of the Pirates to buy into Barrus’ message.
“They really stepped up and just showed the girls what needed to be done,” Barrus said. “They came to practice every day just wanting to get better and working hard. They showed the younger girls this is what we have to do to become a team. If it was not for them and the way they led this team this year, we would not have done what we did.”
A road doubleheader sweep of Bath – who Barrus viewed as one of the teams to beat in the CMAC – was a key turning point for Fulton. Barrus entered the doubleheader hoping for a split and got more than that. And that set things in motion for the school’s first-ever softball league title.
“It’s humbling that I was able to be a part of getting the first league title and first district title,” Barrus said. “I was humbled to be able to be a part of this team and see this group of girls play the way they did. They just came to work every day. Every day they wanted to get better. They kept believing in themselves and they worked hard. I was very proud to see that they accomplished this.”
Barrus hopes this year’s success will give the Pirates momentum for the future.
“We haven’t had a JV program for the last three years,” Barrus said. “Hopefully this will build on that and we’ll get some more girls to come out and get the JV program going again. Hopefully we’ll keep building.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.