“When I interviewed here, it was honestly the first time I had ever been to Smith County,” recalled Adam Case, the head softball coach at Raleigh High School. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love this community, and I love my school.”
In just his second season as head coach of the Lady Lions, Coach Case and his team made an unprecedented run that will not soon be forgotten. They achieved a regular season record of 20-11, and they won the Region 5-3A championship with a 7-1 record against regional competition. After a first round bye, the Lady Lions turned heads with a dominant six-game win streak to become south state champions and earned a trip to Starkville to compete for the 2018 3A Fast Pitch State Championship. This memorable run will go down as one of the most successful in Raleigh High School sports history. Deservingly so, Coach Case was selected as Sports601.com’s 2018 Softball Coach of the Year.
Though their remarkable run seemed to catch many by surprise, Coach Case had all the confidence in the world in his team from the very beginning. But there were definitely moments along the way that seemed to indicate big things to come.
“I knew from the start that this group of girls could go the distance. I have spent the better part of two years trying to get them to believe what I already know. But if I has to pick one spot and one game specifically, I would say our road game against SE Lauderdale. I give all the respect in the world to the opposing team, but we could do no wrong that day. We threw a no hitter on the mound, bunted well, played great defense, and we hit the ball really well, too. Usually not all of those pieces click at the same time, but that night was our night. I saw the girls come together as more of a team than ever before.”
Coach Case said during the season that he and the girls had been channeling their “inner Ric Flair,” playing boldly and confidently against any and every team they got the privilege to face. Of all the great qualities possessed by this year’s team, that mentality is what he most hopes to carry forward as the program continues to grow and reach new heights.
“The main quality that I want to carry into next season is to not be scared of any team or anyone. When I first interviewed here, all I heard about was Choctaw Central, Philadelphia, St. Patrick, and other elite teams. Don’t get me wrong: these are some of top programs in the state, but for some reason or another, when Raleigh ran into those roadblocks, they were overall terrified. Once I started at Raleigh, that was something I wanted to change. I started this by refusing to back down and play anybody and everybody. I don’t care about the classification, the location, or how many rings they have. We will play anyone. That mentality helps you move past being nervous and being scared when it comes time for playoffs.”
The community of Raleigh has certainly embraced and supported Coach Case and the direction in which he continues to guide the program.
“Seeing the type of support we got for going to State was just amazing,” exclaimed Coach Case. “ We had so many people and businesses donate money for charter buses, stay both nights in Starkville, and feed the girls for every meal. I can’t thank them enough. Having a community that will be behind you 100% like that is worth its weight in gold.
“I may not be from here, but I will always be a Lion.”
(Article written by Brad Crowe)