By Antonio Ubiera and Olivia Whitaker
Photo by Eleanor Bacon
Softball has been an integral part of South’s athletic community for over 40 years. This season, the softball team is currently 24th in the Division 1 power rankings with a high likelihood of being one of the 32 teams to qualify for the state tournament.
Sophomore Lauren Kelley has played softball for 11 years and said that with this season’s successes, they have a chance at making recent school history within the Dual County League (DCL).
“I don’t think that we’ve placed first in the DCL since before 1980, so that would be huge,” she said. “Especially to just be a part of the team to finally do that would be awesome.”
Freshman Paige Taylor said that throughout the season, the team has been focusing on the games in front of them rather than playing with the sole intent of going into the postseason.
“We’re trying to win enough games to get a good seed, so that’s definitely something that’s motivating us a little bit,” she said. “We try to just take it one game at a time and not just think about the future.”
Kelley said that much of this season’s success is due to the close bond the team shares on and off the field.
“It’s hard to succeed with a team that you’re not comfortable with, and because we’re so comfortable around each other, we can all make mistakes and we all learn from them together.” she said.
Zoe Goldberg, a senior committed to the University of Toronto’s varsity softball team next year, said that the softball team’s bond this season feels different from past years.
“We’re all really close friends, and that was something that was apparent, even right from the beginning of the season,” she said.“We’ve always been a close team but definitely this year it’s something a little bit different and special. We just love each other and that has really helped our team this year.”
Head coach Jesus Rodriguez said that this year’s team holds a special group of players.
“Every four years is different, different kids and different attitudes, different culture,” he said. “It’s a really good team. They’re all great kids, that’s for sure.”
Sophomore Vivi Shreve said the fun and inclusive energy in the dug-out really brings the group together during the long season.
“You really feel like you’re on a team. You’re very welcome [on the team] and part of it immediately,” she said.
With South’s positive environment contributing to much of its success, the team has leaned heavily on the leadership and example set by their captains. Senior and captain Sofia Hazarika said that she has an important responsibility as a team leader and an upperclassman on a team with several younger players.
“[Being a captain] is being more like a mentor and making sure that everyone else is ready for the game along with yourself,” she said. “You’re not just focusing on yourself.”
Yearly changes in an athletic roster can often disrupt the dynamic of the team, but luckily for the softball team, the new lineup has led to a successful and balanced team. Goldberg said that the two freshmen who joined the team this year are a major reason for their success.
“[The freshmen] are incredibly talented and immediately stepped onto the field as leaders to push our team to the next level,” she said. “Our team would be so different without them and they’ve made a huge impact already.”
As South looks to hit it out of the park in the upcoming state tournament, their support for one another will remain, Goldberg said.
“Win or lose, we have a lot of fun,” she said. “We’re just there for each other. The friendship that we have continues.”