Not many people had the Reedy softball team on their radars when the postseason began in April.
The Lions were coming off of a third-place finish in District 9-5A behind Independence and Centennial, and they had never won a playoff game in the program’s short history.
Fast-forward nearly a month and Reedy is still alive and kicking in unfamiliar territory, as the third-year Class 5A varsity program punched its ticket to the fifth round last week.
Other sports at the school such as football and volleyball have experienced early success, as volleyball reached the postseason in all three years and football made it to the fourth round in 2018 before falling to powerhouse Aledo.
But the softball squad at Reedy has already taken the cake by advancing further in the playoffs than any other sport – two years after winning just one district outing in 2017.
“The atmosphere around the school once we made it out of the last round was completely different,” said Toni McInnis, sophomore second baseman. “Everybody is now talking about softball and asking when the next game is. If you looked back a year ago, nobody would have asked that, but now someone in every single one of my classes is saying they’ll be there.”
The Lions took a major step last season by reaching the postseason in head coach Brooke Cline’s first year at the helm before bowing out in the first round to defending state champion The Colony.
Going into Cline’s second season, the main goal the team came up with prior to the start of district was to not only reach the playoffs once again, but to simply become bi-district champions.
That would be easier said than done after having to face Lovejoy in a one-game series to kick things off, but Reedy prevailed in a 6-5 triumph to mark its first-ever postseason win.
Going into that showdown, the players met in the locker room and discussed what needed to be done after struggling at times during the district slate. This meeting harped on the fact of simply believing this team was capable of going on a run and that confidence, or the lack of, was a key to doing so.
“Going through some of district, we didn’t think we were good enough or as good as we could be,” said Micaela Wark, sophomore pitcher. “We sat down in the locker room right before the playoffs and knew we had to get it together, and we all agreed we should change our mindset from that point on. Everyone has stepped it up in some sort of way since then, and that’s what I love about our team.”
Although that may be the case, the sophomore sensation has been a major reason to the immense success, specifically in the Lions’ most recent series sweep over Hallsville, who many on the team believe was the toughest competition they have faced so far.
The Houston commit has homered in each of the last five games, which included a grand slam and eight RBIs against Hallsville alone. Not to mention, Wark has been the ace in the circle for all seven of Reedy’s postseason victories.
“Micaela has been awesome and is doing a great job in the circle and at the plate,” Cline said. “The competitor that she is feeds off onto the other girls, and the support that she has behind her is just a recipe to success right now.”
It also helps that Wark’s older sister, Maia, is another major contributor as the starting shortstop and No. 3 hitter in the lineup.
That one-two punch in the batting order not only makes the offense nearly unstoppable at times, but also helped in creating the special camaraderie that this group has this season.
“A lot of teams don’t have as strong of a bond and that’s what can separate an actual team and good individual players,” McInnis said. “I’ve known them since they first moved to Texas and having sisters on the team brings a different atmosphere. We’re already all really close as it is and then having actual family makes it even more special.”
Standing in the way of a trip to state is a one-game series against defending state champion Forney.
Cline and Co. was the side that lobbied for the winner-take-all showdown set for 7 p.m. tonight at Wylie, as the Lions look to pull off the upset over the Jackrabbits, who haven’t lost since March 2.
“With the single game, you have one shot,” Cline said. “For us, playing one game made sense. We get our best seven innings and we go out there and show out. It gives our girls a chance to just focus on just that one game to go all out instead of looking over a three-game period.”