Despite losing a large number of graduates last year, the girls’ softball team has worked their way through a grueling yet rewarding season.
The Cardinals dominated the Washington Eagles 8-7 in the Athletic Academic Association league championship game on May 8. Although Lowell faced a stronger team in the league, they were able to hold the lead throughout the game.
Throughout their entire season, the Cardinals came out victorious in all of their games until they clashed with the Washington Eagles at the Battle of the Birds. “It was a tough loss,” senior captain Michelle Willis said. “We were all pretty nervous because Washington is our biggest competitor.”
However this setback motivated the team to do better in their next game, defeating the Bears 18-2, despite Mission’s notoriously strong defense. “After Wash, we practiced more on our offense so we didn’t make the same mistakes,” Willis said.
Their loss at the Battle had helped the team realize they needed to step up their game. “I feel like it helped us in a way,” sophomore third baseman Vanessa Lee said. “It showed that we may be not as good as we were last year and we need to work harder.”
Most of the 18 players on this year’s team did not see the field much last year due to the seniors who dominated due to experience, but now they are starters who are expected to lead the field. “Everyone had to step up their game; the seniors this year have to step up to lead the team,” Lee said. “Last year we were a ‘dream team’ because there were so many experienced players, but this year isn’t as strong.”
Although the team has recently been on a victory streak, closing each game has been noticeably harder. "Winning this year is definitely more challenging than last year because many of our starting lineup haven't had much playing time or game experience until this season,” junior first baseman and pitcher Majenta Strongheart said. “When we play more competitive teams we have to make sure we don't lose our confidence just because we are a newer team."
The new players this year are challenging themselves to catch up with the experienced ones. “It’s a big change of difficulty from middle school ball,” freshman utility player Nora Hazenbos said. “We have practice six times a week for three hours. But it’s really fun and the experienced players are very helpful.”
The freshmen’s hard work is recognized and appreciated by the team. “One of the highlights of the season was seeing the rookies work so hard and improve so much,” Lee said.
Yet again, and practically a tradition in high school sports, next season will surely be a challenge with a majority of this years’ experienced players graduating. “I’m kind of nervous about losing some of the senior players because they’ve really brought the team together,” Lee said. Confidence is key if they want to keep up their winning streak. “Next year will be more difficult, but I think we can work harder and be as great as we have done this season,” she added.
Come cheer on the Cardinals at 4 p.m. tomorrow as they compete in the Transbay Series and face off against Oakland High School at the Oakland High School field.
A version of this story first appeared in the April 28 issue of The Lowell.