She’s coming home.
After a pair of shutout wins over Little Rock Mills, Sylvan Hills Lady Bears head coach Justine Gladden will likely have an emotional week leading up to her homecoming back to Jacksonville to take the Lady Bears up against her old team the Lady Red Devils.
What is the emotion going into Tuesday’s matchup?
“I’m excited,” Gladden said.
She will be excited to take her 11-3 squad into a game that will likely decide the 5A-Central title.
But what will get to Gladden will be the familiarity and being in the opposite dugout.
“I know more than half of those girls,” Gladden said. “It will be exciting to see how much they have grown as players.”
But the admiration will stop the moment that the first pitch is thrown.
“I want to win,” Gladden said.
She wants to win badly against a team that she has played for and coached, in a place she has lived during childhood. And now she coaches the hated enemy.
The Lady Bears have spiced up a schedule with some wins in Clarksville, but have been exposed to some lackluster pitching and playing in some recent conference games.
Gladden said her team has seen some positive results despite the lackluster competition.
“We are becoming more patient at the plate,” Gladden said. “We are waiting on the slower pitches and not swinging too early.”
That’s as much analysis as Gladden could muster from such a lopsided win over Mills.
Now it’s on to an important double header at Gladden’s old stomping grounds.