In November, new Jay M. Robinson head coach Jim Allen and his Bulldogs set high goals for their team as the season approached.
"To win the conference," he recalled. "We did that."
And that doesn't come as a surprise, especially to those who know that the team touts seven players who are hitting above or around .350. One of these girls, junior Dallas King, is not only hitting .400 but she's also one of the best pitchers in the South Piedmont Conference. King has a 1.71 ERA this season.
Allen's players have been more than happy with how this season has gone. Senior outfielder Katie Zavodny, who's hitting .350, said her Bulldogs (19-4, 11-2 in the SPC as of May 6) have excelled this season under Allen.
"He knows the game, he's been around the game for a long time," said Zavodny, who started playing for Allen when she was 9 through Magic Fast-pitch Softball, a travel ball organization Allen founded in 1997. "He knows exactly what he's doing."
Allen introduced the Bulldogs to new hitting techniques, which his players said have led them to hitting the ball with more power and scoring more runs.
Allen has put a lot of focus on hitting, devoting a large portion of their five-day-a-week, 2-hour practices to batting practice and other drills made famous by Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy.
"I don't know if that's why we're hitting better or not, but something's working," said Allen.
That focus on hitting was necessary because the team needed to score runs in order to win, having only one pitcher - King - at the beginning of the season.
Allen said he's also focused on bettering Robinson's defense.
Senior Camry Wagoner, who plays third base for the Bulldogs and is hitting .390, said this has paid off.
"It's about going back to the fundamentals," the senior said.. "If you don't know the fundamentals, you can't do anything else."
The team's offense has clicked with so many players hitting well, but their defense might be as important to their success. The team is outscoring their opponents 183-58, nearly half of these runs against the Bulldogs came in their two SPC losses - against Mount Pleasant (12 runs) and Central Cabarrus (16).
King has been responsible for a lot of that success, being dominant on the mound for most of the season. Her low ERA is even more surprising considering that she gave up the majority of runs during their conference losses - surrendering 10 runs to the Tigers and 13 to Vikings.
Allen explained that as much as the practice and drills have helped, he believes their achievements are also due to the team believing that they can beat anybody they face.
Wagoner said they go full-force every time they hit the field.
"We don't half-way do stuff because it shows in our game - if we practice really hard, we'll play games hard, if we practice lazy, we'll have a really bad game," she said.
Zavodny explained that the fact that the team has bonded more than in years past has also helped them on the field.
"There's not as many cliques as there was last year," she said. "We're together all the time."
Allen has noticed that too.
"These girls get along really, really good," he said. "When you come out here and people get along so well and work hard, it makes it a lot more fun."
Allen explained that the off-the-field bonding has translated into better communication on the diamond.
Wagoner said spending more time together has taught the players how to pick each other up.
"If somebody's down, it's easier to go up and talk to them," she said.
Today, the team will embark on a quest to add an SPC tournament championship to an already good season. Allen doesn't want to get his hopes up too high with the talented pitching in the league.
"This is a crazy, crazy conference," he said. "We could go in and win a game or as easily lose a game and be done."
Next week, the Bulldogs will see their first 3A playoff action. Allen said there's a lot of talent around the state and it's too early to tell how his team will do.
"If we play our game - we don't have to play spectacular, but if we play good, solid ball - we'll be in those games," he added.
For now, Allen is just happy his team finished the season on top of the SPC.
"To set a goal and achieve it is pretty cool," he said.