Determination is focal point for softball

Kristen Smith

     With the chilliness starting to fade and all the fall and winter sports finishing out their seasons, timberwolves welcome back the heat and the spring sports that come with it. This year, the Cedar Park softball team is back and they are as strong as ever. The girls feel that they are prepared to sweep the district.

     Last season, the team started off with high expectations and did its best to reach those lofty goals. As the season came to an end, the girls came just short of meeting them by barely missing the playoffs.  However, it’s a whole new year and the team is determined to make sure last season’s disappointments don’t repeat themselves this year.

     “We expect to win more games than we lose, go further into playoffs and play every game to our full potential,” Megan Schade, junior shortstop said.

      In order to make the playoffs, the team has to improve this year’s performance in every aspect of the game, and practicing more may help them get there.  Not only did the girls practice hard during the regular season, they made it mandatory that as soon as the season ended, they wouldn’t lose focus, but instead go into the offseason training and working diligently to improve their strength and speed.

     “Off-season was extremely difficult. “We went hard in the weightroom and did conditioning twice a week, as well as practicing when we could,” Kara Stanley senior center fielder, said. “Varsity also went above and beyond and practiced on its own.”

     In order to maintain the focus needed for success, a team must have a strong bond sewn into it, and this year the girls say their bond is stronger than ever. With six returning starters, most of the girls have played together for at least two years, if not three.  Playing together for such a long time means the girls know each other extremely well and that can only help tremendously on the field.

     “Our chemistry is really strong. Everyone can just see that by watching us. Stanley said.  “We have great communication and that helps us get the job done on the field.”

     When the team didn’t make playoffs last year, the girls knew who would be the challenging teams in 2010, and are preparing hard for those games. In 2009, the girls lost to Georgetown and only beat Leander once. This season, one of the team’s major goals is to ensure it gets the wins it’s worked hard for. But, the team also knows it won’t be an easy task, and they have to make sure they don’t overlook both Leander and Georgetown.

     “We always play Georgetown first, so when we lose to them we start district off with a loss,” Cami Jenschke, head coach, said.  “They’ve been an average team the last two years, and when you lose, you want to lose to teams that are beating other teams. But with those losses, they put us at the bottom of the bracket. Leander beat us last year and kept us out of the playoffs. This year we just need to remain patient and not be overconfident about either team.”

     With such a strong team, every player needs to contribute in order to make progress. It is a team sport, but they acknowledge that everyone has to put in their own time.  They also know everybody has weaknesses that they need to make sharper to help better the team, and with the team chemistry, they help push each other to improve those weaknesses.

     “As a team, we’ve gotten a lot better at hitting and individually we all know that we have to work hard and that we can’t give up. We all push each other,” Kate Mayfield, junior pitcher, said.

     When the 2010 season finally comes to a close, not only will the team lose its four seniors, it will also lose its spot in district 16-5A.  February 1, all Cedar Park sports were informed that at the start of the 2010-2011 season, they will be placed in district 25-4A.  For the softball team, that means they will start over and have to learn all about new teams while saying goodbye to the ones they knew so well. All of the softball teams that are 16-5A know each other so well, and that makes it more fun when the teams compete.

     “I’m really going to miss the camaraderie of it all. I’m going to miss the coaches of this district because we all get a long so well and it’s been fun competing against people who you know,” Jenschke said.

     The girls have started the season out strong, going 12-5 in their first 17 games. If the girls remain focused and determined, they’re sure reach their goals and go further into playoffs.