The team clinches a spot in the SPC tournament after a win against Trinity Valley

Alex Warner

Jumping up and down, freshman softball player Katelyn Hurt looks at her teammates with excitement. Proud that her team had won a conference game at home, they did not realize until later that they were officially headed to the Southwest Preparatory Conference tournament.

When they beat Trinity Valley 36 to 33 on April 20, the varsity softball team qualified for SPC. The last time they had qualified was in 2019.

“We didn’t think we made SPC until [Coach Schneider] told us,” Hurt said. “It was mind blowing that we pulled it off because, starting behind in second inning, we were behind 21 to 5. I remember looking at my teammates and being just so excited. We were happy that we won and we played really well.”

Because of a thunderstorm during the second inning, the game was stopped and resumed a week later. It was chaotic and a tough game to win.

“The game was suspended in the second inning the week before,” head coach Mike Schneider said. “We were losing 20 to 5 at the time. We kept closing the gap, and then in the bottom of the sixth inning, we broke through with a big inning to get the win.”

The suspension of the game allowed the team to work on their weaknesses. Improving their pitching during practice became one of the prime reasons for their big win of 36 to 31.

“We had trouble with our pitching in the first inning,” Schneider said. “When the game was scheduled to resume a week later, we made some adjustments in our pitching mechanics and that is what made the difference when the game resumed.”

The players also worked on batting and timing how fast the opponent would pitch a ball. While working on physical aspects of the game, they were getting ready mentally.

“Preparing for the game was really going out there and just being ready to play again,” Hurt said. “It was just knowing [we had to] to play hard and try hard. We [had] to be aggressive and make the fewest mistakes possible.”

After preparing for the game, the team was able to make a strong rally. Many of the players were shocked when the opponent’s lead began to shorten.

“When we started making our comeback, I remember standing in the dugout with [teammate and sophomore] Taylor Turner and then we started winning,” Hurt said. “I think it was 29 to 28. We were down by a lot but made a huge comeback. We looked at each other and we were like, ‘No way.’”

Towards the end of the game junior Madison McCloud caught the ball that helped finish the game with a win that allowed them to advance to the SPC tournament.

“In one of the last plays of the game where the other team was batting, the girl hit it and Madison and I were both running towards the ball,” Hurt said. “I just saw McCloud catch it and I thought, ‘No way we just won.’ Our team was so happy.”

Senior captain Gina Montagna went to SPC her freshman year and had not gone since. Being able to go her senior year felt rewarding and exciting.

“It was really cool because [co-captain Grace Macchia and I] went to SPC [our] freshman year,” Montagna said. “There are only two seniors this year and so it was kind of fun to reminisce on being back in the same place in Houston and playing on the same fields. Especially since we got to bond as a team and go out to dinner and just have fun outside of playing.”

During the tournament, from April 28 to May 1 in Houston, there were a few girls who were hesitant to go because of fine arts conflicts, and they didn’t know if it was going to be worth the drive. Freshman Sophia Sardina was skeptical if she was going to have fun; however, she ended up enjoying the tournament and being able to bond with her teammates.

“At first I was a little hesitant because it corresponded with the strings concert and the Symphony of Hope, but the team wouldn’t have had enough players to go, so I decided to choose softball over strings,” Sardina said. “It was super fun because we all hung out after the games, we played cards and we all had a team dinner after our first game. [Even though] we lost both games, we still had a blast.”

Montagna said that she enjoyed practicing with a fun group of girls and was able to go to SPC with them. The tournament allowed the team to get closer and play with each other one last time.

“I really like being a part of a team, getting to practice with each other every day and getting to play games with each other,” Montagna said. “I think by the end of the season, we really bonded. Having that fun group of people that we can hang out with everyday is probably my favorite part.”

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