Taneja Ross and Reagan Shaw take care of business in the field and at the plate. But part of the Arlington Lamar softball team’s success — the squad is 5-3 in District 4-6A play — comes from what Ross, Shaw and company do in the dugout.
“I love loud, obnoxious dugouts to the point where I can’t even yell to my team, because that’s what we do,” Lamar coach Ken Livingston said. “It starts with these seniors, and it starts with these young kids who don’t know any different. So they’re screaming and yelling and cheering and being extremely positive.”
There can be a slight downside to all the Lady Vikings’ vocal intensity. “I have to turn to them sometimes and say, ‘Girls, I can’t even yell the pitch because we’re so loud,’” Livingston said. “And then they start again. I think that’s infectious and what makes this fun.”
Shaw, the team’s freshman starting catcher, and Ross, the senior starting third baseman, bring the fun to the field, where the duo has combined to pick a number of runners off third base. There have also been numerous plays when Ross has thrown home to Shaw to tag out a runner trying to score.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s a freshman and a senior because it’s perfect timing,” Livingston said. “And they get the runner. I’m not calling it. It’s completely up to them. They make eye contact with each other, and I don’t know if they get a big grin or something.”
There’s plenty of big grins to go around. In the Lady Vikings’ 14-4 five-inning victory against Sam Houston on March 28, Ross smacked a lead-off triple to left. And then Shaw clinched the run-rule-shortened win by driving Ross in with a single. Ross finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI. Shaw had three hits and drove in three runs.
There was no bigger fan of Shaw’s game-clinching hit than Ross. “Her smile is just so beautiful when she hits, and I’m like, ‘Go Reagan,’” Ross said.
Shaw isn’t the only freshman helping Lamar win. Dawna Berry is the team’s primary starting pitcher. Both young players give credit to their early success to Ross and her seven fellow Lamar seniors.
“It makes practice and games a lot easier,” Shaw said of the seniors. “If I don’t know where to go or if I don’t know a drill, they’ll explain it for me.”
Berry — who had already played with Shaw for two seasons in the Arlington Girls Softball Association before the battery mates reached high school — keeps batters off balance with the movement of her pitches and her ability to locate the corners of the strike zone.
“Every time I put my glove up where I needed it to be, she hit it,” Shaw said of her pitcher.
Lamar made the playoffs in 2015 but finished fifth — just outside of the postseason qualifiers — in 2016. Things are looking good for a return to the playoffs this spring. The Lady Vikings went into Friday’s action tied for fourth with Arlington, whom they’ve already beaten once this season.
“Naturally, everyone wants to make the playoffs,” Ross said. “But I play this sport for the love of the game. The people that you meet with it is incredible. You don’t only bond on the field. You bond outside of the field and that’s what makes you more of a team. If I mess up, they have my back. If they have a good hit, I’m screaming from the dugout.”
There’s a lot of screaming from the Lamar dugout. When it comes to enthusiasm and support for their teammates, there’s no beating the Lady Vikings.
“We want to compete and continue to do that,” Livingston said. “If nothing else, if we’ve given it our all in the dugout and had fun with it, I can live with that any day as a human being and as a coach.”
The Arlington Sam Houston boys soccer team won its area round game on Friday against El Paso Socorro, 3-0.
Lamar came within a shootout of meeting its crosstown rival in the regional quarterfinal but lost on penalty kicks to El Paso Coronado in the area round.
Sam Houston will meet Coronado in the third round of the playoffs, April 3 or 4.
Bowie was set to meet El Paso Montwood and the Martin girls were playing El Paso Franklin in the area round after the publication deadline.
Follow DFWVarsity on Twitter, @dfwvarsity, for updates and scores.
The Arlington ISD baseball teams continue district competition next week with home-and-away series matching Martin with Sam Houston, Lamar with Mansfield and Bowie with Arlington and.
Seguin, whose district doesn’t play home-and-away series, visits Granbury on Tuesday and Joshua on Friday.
For information and updates, visit www.dfwvarsity.com.
Stephen English: email@example.com, @sbenglish74