PREP SOFTBALL: ‘Inspire the younger girls on the team’: Cullman’s Sadie Graham recaps sophomore season

Cullman’s Sadie Graham. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Lady Bearcats are coming off another great softball season in which they finished runners-up in the Class 6A, Area 13 tournament and clinched a spot at the North Regional. Sophomore Sadie Graham saw a lot of growth from her team throughout the season and learned so much from her time with a great group of teammates.

“I felt we grew as a team. Through the wins and losses, the ups and downs, we became closer. The girls on the team taught me how to believe in myself. I looked up to senior Olivia Britton; she showed me how I could do anything I wanted to if I dedicated myself to it. I learned a lot throughout the season, but one thing that stands out to me is to not show your emotions. My dad and grandfather always taught me good things will come to those who wait. When something happens in life, it is best for your emotions not to get the best of you in any situation. I learned how to be a good leader and teammate. My teammates taught me what it was really like to be a good teammate, to support anyone through anything that could be going on. Anna Grace Parks, my best friend, always reminded me I needed to be the best. She didn’t always have to tell me, but she inspired me. She inspired me to be a good person, through her actions. Overall, Cullman softball has made me grow into the person I am today.”

She added,

“It has amazed me to see how much we have grown from last year as a team. God gave me the opportunity to be around a great group of girls and I can’t thank Him enough. Learning from them has really made me the person I am today. Getting to play with my younger sister, Hattie, also makes me happy. She looks up to the girls and has learned so much from them and from me.”

Getting to play alongside her younger sister was a dream come true for Sadie and their relationship grew even closer because of it. She took away so much from her coaches.

“Me and her grew closer because of the time we spent playing softball together. I do not regret getting the chance to play softball with her again like we did when we were younger. We enjoyed getting the chance to play on the field together. Encouraging my sister out on the field is something I now look forward to doing. To see her accomplish something as an eighth grader, I couldn’t be more proud as an older sister. I love her and getting the chance to be with her out on the field,” Graham said. “I’ve learned a lot over the years from my coaches. Learning to play the game of softball is not everything I learned from them. Coach Morton told me that it’s a mental game and he’s right. The majority of the game is mental. They also taught me how to overcome the mental part of not getting in your head. The support and love from them has also taught me to be a better person overall. The challenges I was faced with, they knew I could overcome them because they believed in me, and I would like to thank them for that.”

Sadie has learned so much during her time on varsity so far and from three great senior leaders as well.

“I learned how to be a leader and try to inspire the younger girls on the team. I also learned to make new friends with the older girls and learn from them,” she said. “The seniors made a big impact on me. Although I didn’t really make it known, they truly did. Each of them had something special about them I looked up to them for. They taught me what it was like to be a leader, not only in the game of softball, but in life. One of them, Olivia Britton, was very impactful on my life. She taught me a lot and I looked up to her. We became best friends outside of softball.”

Sadie has seen a big improvement in her game from her time on JV to now and her confidence kept building up more and more with each great game that she had.

“I played JV since the seventh grade and coming up to varsity was a change. The growth in my game has expanded and I’ve become even more dedicated to the game. It’s a challenging change, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome. My hitting has doubled what it was last year from the hard work and dedication I’ve put in. Getting base hits is my mindset when I’m in the box. I’m faster, most definitely. The work in the field is something I will continue to work at. Overall, I’ve increased the growth in my game from the time and dedication I’ve put into the game of softball,” she said. “One thing I did learn is to have confidence in yourself. My confidence did gain over the season after I realized I could overcome the things I struggled at.”

Sadie will continue to work on her game in the offseason to get ready for her junior year. She has some goals set for herself and for her team.

“I want to get better at the game overall in school ball to travel ball. I can play anywhere. Being utility, you need to understand the game and work on your fundamentals and especially my hitting for next season, I’m still looking for improvement,” she said. “My individual goal is to get better as a player, but not only as an athlete, but be the better person, the leader. The team’s goals are to improve as a team, make it to state or closer as we can each and every year, to grow as a team, and be the best Cullman softball team we can possibly be.”

Sadie thinks this team will do special things in 2024 and she talked about her role models growing up, plus the best advice that someone ever gave her.

“This team is special in many ways, but definitely the girls on the team make it special for me. The connection we have as teammates make softball fun. They are a great group to surround yourself with. As the seniors leave this year, I am looking forward to see how the team will grow and what direction we will go in. Hopefully, we will continue to grow and get better,” she said. “I would have to say my dad and grandfather. My grandfather was a coach at Arab and he always had the mentality of being the best you can be. He pushed my sister and me to be the best we could be. When we were younger, he would take us to the front yard to hit softballs, even if we didn’t want to. He was at every softball game I can remember. He’s always been my #1 supporter. Paw-Paw has always wanted me to be the best athlete I can be.”

She added,

“My role models in softball are Olivia Britton and A.G. Parks. Olivia was a senior and made a big impact on my life. There were moments where I saw what it was really like to live and overcome in the game of softball and in life. I can still count on her for anything; she’s one of my best friends. Anna Grace is my best friend outside of softball, but she really was my biggest impact on being a good person. She is the funniest and sweetest person you will ever meet. She was always there to help and support me through practices and games; she was by my side every day. The best advice someone ever gave me is to not let your emotions get the best of you. I’ve always struggled with that and that’s something that’s helped me.”

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