Comeback Season- Softball Conquers the Field During Record Breaking Season
The sun is beating down on the field and the quiet hum of anticipation hangs in the early fall air. Jojo Van Dyke focuses on the batter and her teammates in the dugout shout support while they spit sunflower seeds. Dust from previous slides across home base coat the bleachers and the fans hold their breath as Jojo pitches. Welcome to Standley Lake softball.
The year began with a strategy. In the past, varsity softball has been challenged by a lack of team unity and tough competition from neighboring schools, however, this season proved to be different.
“We set a bunch of goals at the beginning of the season to basically improve our all-around play. [We wanted to] improve our fielding percentage, our pitcher’s ERA, and increase our triples, doubles, singles, and whatnot,” Katie Hennesy, ‘20, said.
As one of the co-captains of the team along with Ciara Currigan, ‘20, Hennesy recognized that in order for the team to achieve success, it was necessary to focus on the skills that would eventually contribute to a strong base for later triumphs to be built upon. However, along with the goals to improve their play, the team wanted to strengthen their connection with one another as well.
“In past seasons, JV and Varsity practiced on different fields. It was like there were two teams: varsity softball and JV softball. This year, we all practiced together which not only made the separate teams stronger, but it was like we were all one united team for once,” Lainie Caywood, ‘20, said.
Having played on the team for three years, Caywood reminisced on past seasons in which team unity was pushed to the back-burner while every player had individual focuses and goals. In the aftermath of another season in which success was rare and unity was rarer, the team realized that they needed a new mindset.
“I think the reason we got so far this season was that we were all friends. We have such a diverse team and in the past, there has been drama with certain girls not liking other girls. This year, it felt like everybody was there because they wanted to be, not because they had to be,” Caywood said.
The new team dynamic proved incredibly successful. Following leagues in which SLHS defeated Green Mountain, the team qualified for playoffs—a feat that had not been accomplished in six years. Out of three games, the Gators won their second game and left feeling proud of themselves for a coveted victory that was ultimately a culmination of years of hard work.
“I just want to say thank you to all the girls for making it such a great last season, for giving it your all during our games and playoffs […] I think this team had a really special bond this year because we accomplished so much together, […] thank you all for everything,” Hennesy said.