BENTONVILLE (KFSM)--Kent Early has led Bentonville to two straight 7A softball championships thanks to depth on the mound and in the lineup. And three years ago, head coach Kent Early had a bold prediction about catcher Haley Cornell.
"I told her at the beginning of her freshman year that 'you will be the best power hitter that this program has ever had'," Early said.
And if we're measuring power based on home runs, than Early is some kind of prophet. Cornell recently set the all-time Bentonville mark with her 21st career homer with a two run shot against Greenbrier on March 31. That eclipsed Faith Lund's total of 20 home runs (2006-09). The senior has a career .380 batting average.
"Oh my gosh I just did that," Cornell said about her record breaking moment. "Like it's kind of a big deal since it hadn't been done in so long."
"It just lets her leave a legacy and that's something that we talk about with these kids, you know, you're leaving a legacy," added Early.
The 7A-West is familiar with Cornell and defenses have adjusted accordingly.
"There are several teams that play on the warning track, they do. I mean they play deep cause they know hey if it's not going out it's gonna be a fly ball. And they keep everything in front of them," said Early.
The power surge began off the field after her freshman year.
"Seeing her get stronger and faster. She's gonna hit the crap out of the ball and we all have so much confidence in her," senior Tymber Riley said.
"Getting stronger in the weight room and just lifting a lot more," Cornell agreed. "And we focused a lot on turning the barrel lately."
For as good as Cornell is at the plate, she's even better behind it.
"She's just like a venus fly trap back there. Nothing gets past her," Early said.
Here's a year by year breakdown of Cornell's home run prowess.
|TOTAL||22 (school record)|