Changes atop Cherokee County softball

Brad Weaver has stepped down as head coach of the Cherokee County Lady Warrior softball team. Photo by Billy Garrett.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – The Cherokee County Lady Warrior softball program will have a new head coach for the 2025 season.

After five full seasons at the helm, Brad Weaver officially stepped away as head coach at the end of the school year. Not including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Weaver helped lead the Lady Warriors to a 120-81 record, including two consecutive 30-win seasons, both of which resulted in state tournament appearances.

Replacing Weaver is former Lady Warrior junior varsity softball coach Jessica Rathje Hull.

Weaver helped return the Lady Warriors to prominence, including back-to-back state tournament appearances the past two seasons. Cherokee County finished with a 36-11 record last season, including a Class 4A East Softball Regional championship.

“Making the decision to step down as head coach was difficult. It is one my family and I put much thought and prayer into,” said Weaver, who will continue his assistant football coaching duties. “With my girls growing up and being actively involved in spring sports, it makes it very difficult for me to attend their games when I’m coaching. Though it was extremely hard to make, this was the best decision for my family. I will miss coaching softball at the varsity level tremendously, but I’m looking forward to being present for my girls in the future. They’ve my world and I couldn’t imagine missing any more of their games.”

Last season, the Lady Warriors won their first state tournament game since 2013 with a 5-4 comeback victory over Prattville Christian. Following that win, Cherokee County was matched up with three-time defending state champion Orange Beach.

The Lady Warriors more than gave Orange Beach – which was declared MaxPreps’ national champions last week – a run for their money. They battled them to a 6-6 tie through seven innings. It took a Falyn Beebe leadoff home run to deep center field in the eighth to end the game by the final of 7-6.

“We definitely kept them on their toes during that game and that’s something many teams couldn’t do,” Weaver said. “I’ve always stood by the talent and determination of every player on our softball team. Going into the game against Orange Beach was an evident challenge, and one that our team accepted. Orange Beach is No. 1 in the nation for good reason. They’re really talented, but our girls played with intensity, grit and brought everything they had to the field that game.”

Orange Beach went on to win its fourth consecutive state title with a 2-1 victory over Brooks in the championship game. Brooks ended Cherokee County’s season with a 6-0 decision.

Since then, Hull has taken over the Lady Warriors’ workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

A former pitcher, Hull is a 2015 Glencoe and 2019 Brenau University (Gainsville, Ga.) graduate. She and husband Blake were recently married.

Hull said she’s excited to get her chance to coach Cherokee County on the varsity softball stage.

“I couldn’t have stepped into a better program. All the athletics here at Cherokee County are phenomenal,” Hull said. “I feel the support in this community and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I love this town, the people in it, the parents, the girls. I really am looking forward to getting started with them. I can’t wait until that first practice day. I know they’re excited too.”

Hull already knows many of her players, having coached several of them this past year.

“It’s a great advantage to have worked with that team before and to step up to the next level with them,” she said. “We’re all growing together. There are growing pains with everything because they’re JV players coming up and they’re middle schoolers coming up, but it’s a huge advantage to know my pitchers and know my fielders. I know how they work. It’s not like coming into a brand new program and getting to know the athletes. I also have the advantage of knowing them as a person. I know who I can be hard on and who I need to love a little extra.”

One of Hull’s assistants on varsity is Rachel Hale Dixon, a 2009 Cherokee County graduate. Dixon also helped Hull on the junior varsity last season.

Hull is hoping to pick up where Weaver and last season’s Lady Warriors left off.

“I take a lot of pride in being here and having this position,” she said. “I’m going to lead to the best of my abilities and give my girls 100 percent, because I know they’re going to give me 100 percent.

“I’m not going to set a limit for these girls. Of course I want them to go back to state, but it comes down to them and what they want to do. If they want to win area, then they’re going to win area. They have the athletic ability and everything they need to do what they want. It just comes down to the mental side of it, having that confidence and attitude that you’re going to do it. It’s all a mind game. You set the limits for yourself. I think I’ve taught our JV group that.”

Jessica Rathje Hull is the new softball coach at Cherokee County High School. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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