Varsity Softball Ends A Successful Season

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Photo By C. High

Varsity Softball vs. Rouse

Jena Hawks and Haley Stiles

The 2016 varsity softball season has come to a close, and looking back on it, the Lady Warriors  had an amazing season. They ended with competing in the playoffs, a feat Westwood has not accomplished in four years.

The team began the year practicing in offseason throughout the fall and winter, working on technique and perfecting their skills. A fundraising golf event was also held, with a tournament and prizes awarded to the winners, as well as a silent auction, which raised money for new equipment and jerseys. The fundraiser also helped earn money that would be awarded to the girls at the season in the form of scholarships. In January, tryouts were held and the official 2015-2016 varsity softball team was assembled. A bonding day was held at the YMCA, competing in obstacle courses and rock climbing, where goals were made for the season as a team.

“I think that it definitely brought us closer together as a team, and we got to learn new stuff about each other, and we were able to bond over things and we were able to work through situations as a team,” Gabby Garcia ‘19 said.

Beginning in February, pre-season started, which included practicing during the softball blocks and after school, as well as competing in tournaments. During these tournaments, brackets were compiled and the team played multiple games a day, moving up the bracket in hopes of playing in the tournament’s championship game. Though these games did not determine playoff eligibility, it provided good practice for the girls and counted towards their overall season record.

During March, the official season commenced, with district games played every Tuesday and Friday. These games determine whether or not the school will compete in the playoffs. The varsity team began their season with an outstanding record of 4-0, defeating Hendrickson, one of the hardest teams in the district. Though their standings were strong, tragedy struck, with several of the players receiving game-hindering injuries. This brought the team into a rut, bringing their score to 4-4.

However, in April the team made a comeback, raising their record to 8-4. By the end of the month, their standings were 8-6, and the team was hopeful to make the playoffs.  They needed to win one of their games against either Round Rock or Cedar Ridge. However, Round Rock defeated the team and their last chance to win a spot in the playoffs was their game versus Cedar Ridge. The Lady Warriors fought hard during the game, keeping the higher score throughout the innings, but Cedar Ridge pulled out a narrow victory in the last inning. The girls were devastated, having come so close to the playoffs just to have their dreams dashed, but then a miracle occurred: Stony Point pulled off the upset of the year, defeating Pflugerville and sending the varsity softball team through to the playoffs. The Lady Warriors were ecstatic, crying tears of joy. The team dined in celebration at the finest of establishments: the one and only Whataburger.

“My emotions were kind of mixed: I was crying and laughing, and then crying again, we were all super happy and relieved — it was probably the best moment of my life!” Haley Popelka ‘18 said.

Playoffs were the following week, and nerves were running high. Each day leading up to the game, the girls dressed in theme to school, one day being “Whiteout” and another “Denim”. On Thursday afternoon before the game, the softball team hosted a tailgate, grilling and spending time with friends and family. The night finally arrived, and just as the first game of the series was about to begin, it started pouring and the field had to be covered. The teams had to wait until the rain ended to start the game. After 20 minutes, the rain halted, and the game began: the Lady Warriors started off strong, but had a bad inning — then the rain began again, and the game had to be postponed to the following night. The girls were disappointed, as they wanted to play on their home field with the support of their fans.

“It was really frustrating because we didn’t even get to finish our first game at home, so I felt like it was kind of a rip off to be honest,” Rylee Espinoza ‘16 said. “I feel like we maybe could have came back from that, and then the drive to Hayes was awful and then we came back it was better, but it was frustrating.”

Friday afternoon, the girls lunched at McAlister’s, preparing for a hard fight. That night, the game started where it left off, with the score 4-1 to Hayes. Despite their extraordinary efforts, the Rebels took the victory. In order to advance to the next round, the girls would have to win both their games on Saturday, a difficult feat. The day began with an afternoon game, and the team was hoping to pull out a victory against Hayes, which would force a tiebreaker game later that day to determine who would advance. Though they had high hopes, the game ended in defeat, halting their road to the championships. After the game, the team called a meeting, capping off the season and congratulating the seniors on their high school career.

“This season was the best out of my previous two years,” Charese Wyatt ‘17 said. “I loved the way we all meshed. The team chemistry was really good and I hope that next year it will be even better.”
The end of the year softball banquet took place on May 18, and commemorated the season and held an awards ceremony, giving such titles as MVP, Best Defensive Player, and other awards. We are so proud of our girls for an amazing season, and can’t wait to see what they will accomplish in 2017!