At 10-3-1 in pre-district play, The Colony’s softball team is hitting its stride heading into the beginning of District 8-5A play next week.
After Tuesday’s 11-7 win over McKinney, the Lady Cougars continued their hot stretch of play on the diamond. It marked their seventh consecutive win and their sixth such during that span that they scored 10 or more runs, a stretch that also includes a 20-run outburst and an 18-run explosion.
“Just like everybody else, at the beginning of the season we’re trying to find the right combination of what’s best for everyone and balancing strengths and weaknesses,” said Deana Coleman, The Colony head coach. “It’s a lot of trial and error, and we just, luckily, have come out on top a couple of times, so it looks good, but we’re still just trying to grow and be the best we can.”
Coming into the season, The Colony lost one of the top pitchers in the country and the co-MVP in 8-5A in Karlie Charles, who is now at Iowa State following a stellar high school career that saw her capture a 5A state title in 2017, garner a recruiting ranking of No. 137 in 2019 by FloSoftball and finish it off behind a senior campaign that saw her go 37-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 285 strikeouts in 236.1 innings to help lead her team to the state semifinals.
Now, Charles is making a mark in the Big 12 and boasts 2.42 ERA in six starts and nine appearances with the Cyclones, meaning The Colony is looking to new blood on the mound after losing a cornerstone at the position. Jayda Coleman is a perfect 7-0 with a 1.03 ERA, Sydney Young is 2-0 with a 6.48 ERA, Jodee Duncan has a 4.20 ERA in seven appearances and Kaitlyn Moller had made three stints thus far.
But as the Lady Cougars are finding their footing there, the offense and defense have been some big pluses.
Their latest 11-7 win over McKinney marked the eighth time that The Colony scored 10 or more runs, playing a large role in it averaging a whopping 9.1 runs per contest thus far. Right now, the team batting average sits at .407, mixing in 17 triples, 17 doubles and four home runs next to 49 stolen bases.
“Our defense saw a big improvement from the first scrimmage to even the last five games we played, so that’s good and looking up,” Coleman said. “I think the defense and the offense are our strengths. We lost our Big 12 pitcher. Our pitcher last year, Karlie Charles, went to Iowa State, and she’s like a starter for them right now, so that’s a hole. That’s a hole you have to fill, so we’re trying to mix in and see how we’re going to do that and just trial and error.”
Leading the charge has been a key mix of senior stars paving the way for a talented crop of youngsters behind them, doing just what the seniors once did for them during the run to hoisting up the state championship trophy back in 2017.
Jayda Coleman, the No. 1 recruit in the country who is heading to Oklahoma next season, is dominating in her final high school season following a junior year where she hit .717 and stole 74 bases. Her .795 batting average is No. 5 nationally, her 31 runs are tied for No. 2 nationally and her 24 stolen bases are No. 2 — all according to statistics available on MaxPreps.
Texas Tech-bound Jaycee Hamlin is right behind Jayda Coleman with a .500 batting average, 18 RBIs, eight extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases. Jodee Duncan is up to a .500 average next to 23 RBIs – the latter of which is tied for the 12th-most in the country.
And with the leadership and senior class paving the way alongside them, coach Coleman is impressed about how they have mentored the younger players like their predecessors.
“The seniors definitely recognized we have to have these freshmen just like the other class,” coach Coleman said. “They’ve done a great job with the leadership and getting close to them. I give credit to my seniors, all of them. I have five seniors. They’ve done an awesome job at that.”
While expectations are high for The Colony because of a deep postseason run last year and a state title just three years ago, the focus does not remain on that nor is it focused on coming away as the No. 1 team in the state when it is all said and done.
Instead, coach Coleman and company are focused on making sure their players are ready for the next step of their lives, whether that is to play softball collegiately or whatever venture they do embark on.
Will players be ready for college?
Will these players be ready for that level just like former Lady Cougar Madison Hirsch, who has the fourth-best batting average for the Jayhawks (.368) and just hit her first home run?
Will the younger players be ready when their time comes?
“Our goal is for when you go and play at the next level collegiately, you have the ability to do that, so the only thing that I tell my kids is when you first step into this program, you will not be the same person or player when you step out,” coach Coleman said. “That’s my guarantee to you. That’s not to say that you’re going to be D-I or whatever. It’s we’re going to push you to the best you can be, and whatever that is supposed to be it’s supposed to be. But that’s my job and to create a family.”