After a season marked by rookie mistakes and lopsided losses, the Highland Park softball team is eager for a do-over.
The Lady Scots will open the 2018 season with last year’s rebuilding effort behind them, and with the experience to get back into postseason contention.
“Last year we had some growing pains, but we looked to build upon the successes that we did have,” said second-year HP head coach Michael Pullen.
“The girls are a little older now. Moving forward, we have girls who have played a lot of softball.”
That wasn’t the case a year ago, when HP’s starting lineup consisted mostly of freshmen after losing almost its entire 2016 team — which set a school record for wins — to graduation and transfers.
The good news for the Lady Scots is that this year’s squad returns eight starters, including slugger Amanda Reenan, a senior who already has three all-district selections under her belt. Reenan will play shortstop and pitcher this spring.
She will be surrounded by mostly younger players who should benefit from last year’s struggles, such as catcher Dawson Daboussi, pitcher Claire Walker, infielder Ava Sims, and outfielders Katie Reenan and Grace Brown.
“We believe that experience will add up to better results. We’re in a good spot for the next couple of years,” Pullen said. “We’ve got youth in key positions, which is a good thing to have.”
After a non-district schedule that features tournaments in Farmers Branch and Sugar Land, HP must navigate a stacked District 15-5A with such powerhouses as Lovejoy, Forney, North Forney, and Mesquite Poteet. All four teams have pitchers that likely will play at the Division I college level.
However, Pullen said that he’s already noticed progress and chemistry among his returnees developed in part through summer conditioning sessions and fall league games.
“They’ve been pushed pretty hard and they’re pretty confident,” Pullen said. “They’re more prepared. They’ve put in the time to get better. They’re ready to go.”