Winter Springs Softball is enjoying one of it’s most successful seasons in school history, boasting 28-0 heading into the regional final.
For Winter Springs Softball senior outfielder and FSU signee Kaley Mudge, this year has been the best of her high school career, not only on paper but with the coaches and the girls.
“On and off the field, we have really great chemistry, and that’s something that was missing in past years,” Mudge said.
“It’s been really great to have this big of a record-breaking season, especially since it’s my last high school season, but our coaches have really helped us, seniors, to stay focused on the team goals and not just our own personal goals.”
Mudge added that the difference in this year’s team comes down to their work ethic.
Every practice or game, she and her teammates strive to get better and push each other to give their best efforts on the field.
“I knew this season was going to be so fun just from the first practice, but I think after beating Eustis, I really started to realize how special this team was,” she noted.
“Eustis was the first game that we were losing and we had to come back. Before that game, we never really had a test like that, but we all persevered and trusted each other and ended up beating them 4-3.”
It also helps when some of the best teams in the state are literally just a handful of miles down the street.
The Bears beat Lake Howell by margins of one run and three runs, respectively, and Lake Brantley by two.
Oviedo, who is in the 9A regional final suffered defeats at the hands of Winter Springs 6-2 and 2-0, while Hagerty faced them four times including the regional semifinal. The Huskies lost 4-0, 4-3, 3-1, and 4-3.
“We’ve been really blessed to be in such a tough conference. It’s really prepared us to play those tough non-conference teams like Bartow and Eustis,” Mudge mentioned.
“The SAC has always been a very competitive conference in every sport, but especially softball. We’ve seen really dominate pitching from teams like Lake Brantley and Lake Howell, and we’ve seen really great hitting teams like Hagerty.
“We know that there isn’t one team in the conference that we consider an “easy game” because every team in the conference is good.”
Winter Springs Softball’s road to glory
After initially thinking they would host the regional final, Coach Mark Huaman’s squad is headed to South Florida to take on Wellington High.
The miscommunication doesn’t bother them though. The team looks at it as a chance to bond on the three-hour bus ride.
“We know we’re going to make a lot of memories,” Mudge said. “We don’t really know much about their team and they don’t know much about us so I think that will make the game a lot more exciting.
“Not only is it the regional finals, but both teams don’t really know what to expect. We know it’s going to be hard to go into Wellington’s home field, especially in a win-or-go-home situation, but our coaches have really prepared us for this postseason run.”
A few days prior to the regional quarterfinals, the Lady Bears had a team talk in their locker room. The coaches emphasized that in the postseason their record was now 0-0 and that it didn’t matter what had happened in the regular season.
They instilled in them that they had prepared all season long for the moments that lie ahead and that all they had to do go was out and play the game the way they knew how one pitch and one inning at a time.
“We’ve definitely gotten nervous over the postseason, but one of my teammates,
“This really helps us to relax and just take a minute to calm our nerves. Going into the game, I think we just have to stick to our game.
“Instead of trying to force the results, we just have to trust each other and leave it all out on the field.”
First things first, though. Mudge and her teammates want to make it through the regional and state series and ultimately bring home a championship to Bear Country. The road won’t be an easy one though.
“It would mean so much to the seniors and to this whole program if we could win a state championship,” she said.
“We’ve worked so hard this season and I hope that we can bring home a state title, but we’re going to keep focusing on one pitch and one game at a time because we know that from here on out, every game is going to be a dogfight.”
Mudge at the next level
The Winter Springs Softball senior is one of the top college softball players in the country and joins pitcher Aynslie Furbush (Ole Miss) as two D-1 signees on the Winter Springs squad.
Mudge signed with defending National Champions Florida State. She committed to the Noles as a freshman and fell in love with the school right away.
“My travel ball coaches told me during the recruiting process to fall in love with the school, not just the softball program, and FSU is definitely that school for me,” she explained.
“The coaches implement such a family-oriented team, and all the players are so supportive of each other.
“I could just tell by talking to the coaches and the girls that the FSU softball program was the right place for me because it’s such a humble and down-to-earth program.”
Mudge lists her speed and aggressiveness as her best skills and notes that she has good plate discipline, helping her wait for just the right pitch.
“I’m really looking forward to being part of a program like Florida State,” Mudge said. “I’m really excited to up my softball IQ and learn new things about the game, and hopefully one day play for a National Championship!”
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