First year Head Softball Coach, T.D. Buck didn't know what to expect coming into this season. His goals for the team were sweep somebody, have an above .500 record, and not be swept by anybody.
"We made two of those three goals, we swept some people, and we were above. 500," Buck said. "...which isn't bad." The "wasn't bad" season started out down-right awesome for the Lady-Crusaders.
They swept their first three opponents, going 6-0 to start out the year. They book-ended their season against Mulvane, sweeping them in the first meeting, then losing to the Lady-Wildcats in the Regional Finals.
"We kind of had a little roller-coaster, we had that great start...then we struggled through some hard times," Buck said. "But when it was time to play, we played a little bit." The team was carried by two senior pitchers, Shanlyn Hefley who went 8-6, and Kailey Jenkins, who's final record was 3-3.
Hefley threw 104 innings, and amassed a 2.35 Earned Run Average.
"She was just phenomenal in the circle all year, she never had a bat outing," Buck said. Jenkins pitched the remaining 27 innings, with a 4.35 ERA.
"They're good pitchers, and what makes them good is they're so competitive and they hate to lose," their coach said. Opposite of the pitching circle, in the batter's box, WHS had some solid performances this season as well.
Ryleigh Buck, freshmen, lead WHS with a .513 On-Base Percentage. She was second on the team in batting average at .446, Jenkins lead the team in that category with .470. Jenkins also lead the team in Runs Batted In, with 25. She was followed by Buck at 20, and Hefley who had 15.
In recent years, the softball team hasn't had much success. Buck said this year's high marks are derived from beyond the diamond.
"They haven't had success in softball, but so many of our girls are multiple sport athletes," the coach pointed out. "Look at the success they've had in basketball and tennis." He added that a key moment of this season happened during game one.
"Maybe the biggest game all year was the first one," Buck said. "We're down four runs in the bottom of the seventh and come back to win. That may have been the turning point right there." The Lady-Crusaders have plenty to look forward to in softball's future.
"We've got a good, young crew," Buck said. "What we're going to have to do very well is hit the ball. You look at all levels of softball...the teams that hit the ball really well are usually the teams that win." A big task will come in replacing the two senior pitchers.
"We're going to have to find some varsity pitchers," Buck said. "We've got a few JV pitchers that were decent, the can throw the ball across the plate and get strikes." Because of wet weather, the team practiced more indoors than out this season, which the coach said was a challenge, but one that every team in the area faced.
Page 2 of 2 - Overall, 11-9 is a season WHS can live with.
"Very pleased with what we did," Buck said. "A bounce here, a bounce there, an extra inch here and we're still playing."