When Little Elm head coach Jill Miller and her husband were driving last week, she was reminded of the severity of the situation the world currently sits in.
“My husband and I went out and got some ice cream last week, and I saw a sign on someone’s door about a local business being closed down,” Miller said. “It really made me sad and really made me think about, ‘Gosh, how much we’re all missing and what we’re all missing out on.’
Before the season came to a halt – the UIL amended and extended its previous May 4 timeline for the earliest date that games could resume – Little Elm’s talented bunch was eager for one last go-around in District 8-5A just a few months ahead of its jump to the biggest classification in Texas: 6A.
Last year, Little Elm was a force to be reckoned with. It lost just two games in 8-5A – both to The Colony – and stampeded its way to a deep run. It won six straight contests to close the regular season, and it kept going when the postseason rolled around, where it earned its way to the regional finals before dropping both games to fellow district foe The Colony.
“Getting this news is hard because we were looking forward to it,” Miller said. “We wanted to play, and we were excited. One more year at 5A before we went up to 6A next year. It’s been hard because we really wanted to play. We really were talking and looking forward to getting ready to start having some fun.”
Plenty of talent returned from that team that was one of the final eight standing in Texas, plus some newcomers that make the future look incredibly bright once this senior class departs.
Among the core returners is Wichita State-bound Lauren Lucas, whose dominance as a senior shows why she was named a the 8-5A MVP along with The Colony’s Jayda Coleman – who is the No. 1 recruit in the 2020 class and going to Oklahoma — last year as a junior. Lucas boasts a .569 average, 21 extra-base hits (11 doubles, four triples and six home runs) and 30 RBI, which tags next to her 102 strikeouts – the team has 122 total – and 2.72 ERA on the mound.
“She’s just one of those kids,” Miller said. “She puts in a lot of work. She’s a great ball player. She’s a great athlete. She has a great mentality for the game. She has a great attitude. She’s always there, always wants to play. She always gives her 100% at practice every day. I think, I guess you would technically say in the two-and-a-half years, we haven’t really had a full season this year, I think she’s missed three practices. Maybe.”
But the train does not stop there on a roster that features the core group of seniors, four freshmen seeing the field, a couple of juniors and a sophomore.
Georgia Heathcock (.390) and D’Kota Gibbs (.386) trail Lucas not far behind in batting average. Cadence Hernandez has the second-most doubles (six), home runs (five) and RBIs (26). And Alyssa Adams is up to a .365 mark at the plate and 25 RBIs.
“The whole team was just doing well,” Miller said. “We were excited to get in to district. We were really looking forward to playing.”
Miller and the Lady Lobos hope to make some more history this year, if the season does continue at some point.
If it doesn’t, though, Miller had a message for everyone on the roster and the seniors. Their last practice together was more than a month ago on a Thursday afternoon on March 12, back when the questions and uncertainly creeped in about what would happen.
“I tried to tell them, ‘We don’t know,’” Miller said. “I said, ‘No. 1 we don’t know at this time.’ I said, ‘But with that being said, you need to take this and learn from this that you never know when your last game is going to be. You never know when your last everything is going to be. You need to do it with all of your intensity, ability in your heart because you never know when something is going to be taken away from you.’”