Jefferson’s 2010 softball season will go down as two different seasons essentially.
There was a stellar, bounce-back 20-win regular season following a nine-win 2009 campaign. Then there was the near-miss in the postseason.
Needing one more victory to qualify for the Class AA state tournament, Jefferson lost to Fannin County 4-2. The Dragons finished 22-9-1.
“I feel like they came a long ways over the course of the year,” coach Brad Puckett said. “We came up short of where we wanted to be obviously.”
This season turned out to be Puckett’s last as he announced his resignation this week (see related story on page 1B) to further his education.
Puckett said this team put in the work to have a special season, but saw its bats cool off at the worst time — the region tournament.
“The kids spent a ton of time, a ton of effort and a ton of hours of working, and to fall short of where you want to be is disappointing,” Puckett said.
The fact that Jefferson won 22 games and didn’t make it to the state tournament speaks to the level competition in Region 8-AA. For softball in Class AA, Puckett said Jefferson’s region “is kind of like the SEC face in football.”
“I really think our region and Region 6 are the toughest regions in the state,” Puckett said.
Such a rigorous region certainly helps prepare teams for the state playoffs, but “the problem is getting out of the region for the postseason,” Puckett said.
The coach noted this team’s maturity at several points this season, which played a large role in its success.
“Absolutely, the way they handled the pressure situations, they came out to play everyday,” Puckett said.
But this team still has to learn how to battle back in the postseason after some sub-par days at the plate. That all comes back to experience, the coach said.
“That’s something that will come as they mature,” Puckett said.