It took more than two decades before Highland Park reached the softball playoffs last spring.
In fact, the Lady Scots not only won a bi-district series in their postseason debut, but earned a program-best 15 wins to go with a runner-up finish in District 10-6A. HP defeated Irving before falling to Rockwall.
After placing so many check marks on the list of milestones in 2015, however, HP head coach Meredith Townsend is optimistic the Lady Scots can achieve even more this season.
“I think there’s very high hopes to win district,” Townsend said. “I’m extremely excited. I think the girls feel a little more pressure than they’ve ever felt.”
That pressure stems from the type of high expectations that haven’t been felt before for the Lady Scots. However, seven players return from a group that earned two rounds’ worth of playoff experience last May.
“We have a ton of seniors this year,” said Townsend, who is beginning her sixth season at HP. “Even though we’ve accomplished a lot, there’s still so much more that we can accomplish.”
Three of the seven seniors are beginning their fourth year as varsity starters, including left-handed pitcher Katie Bell, who already has been the workhorse for the Lady Scots for the past three years. Last season, she was named the top pitcher in the district, and Townsend said her improved control is a primary factor.
“She’s so much more level-headed than she was a couple of years ago. From her freshman year to now is night and day,” Townsend said. “She’s very athletic and very natural at what she does. She really maintains her cool.”
The experience extends throughout the lineup, including returnees Emily Singh, Rennie Orr, Grayson Rutherford, Olivia Davis, Sunny Bowden, and Amanda Reenan.
A team that was filled with sophomores two years ago now only has one. And Townsend said that maturity has made for a more efficient offseason, with workouts running smoothly and camaraderie already firmly established.
“It’s a huge difference to have all nine of them who have been playing together forever. They don’t make as many errors and they’re more comfortable,” Townsend said.