It was 2012 when Summit’s softball team last made the playoffs, and this year’s edition is hoping to end the drought.
Summit, under the direction of second-year coach Scotty Hale, feels this year’s squad has the experience and talent to improve its current fifth-place spot into a playoff position.
Hale has been at Summit since the school’s opening, but has coached other sports or focused on his daughter’s athletics prior to taking the helm of the softball program last year.
When the position came open, Hale jumped at the opportunity and even conducted an interview while on vacation at Disney World.
Making the playoffs in District 14-5A is quite a feat in itself.
“We were sixth last year in district,” Hale said. “We played hard but had some bad breaks in one of the toughest districts, if not in the area, but in the state of Texas. There’s some amazing talent in this district.”
So far this season, the tough breaks are still there, but Summit is fighting back and is just one game out of a playoff spot thus far at 5-4.
The Lady Jaguars have just run a tough gauntlet in the district, meeting Waxahachie, Lake Ridge, Legacy and Ennis in successive games.
“We were ahead in the Lake Ridge game and lost,” Hale said, explaining that some things have gotten away from the team. “I’ve told the girls we are just a few plays, a few errors away from being 7-2 or 6-3.”
Helping make a difference this year are six returning starters for Summit, including getting a starting pitcher back from injury. They started the season with no pitchers with any varsity experience.
Now back in the circle is Cheyenne Macias.
While she was out, the versatility and athleticism of Lauren Blue helped out. Blue went from shortstop to catcher and then pitcher.
“She’s a really good athlete and accepted the challenge,” Hale said of Blue.
Circling back through for the second cycle of district games, Summit needs to turn the tide in at least one series they dropped the first game. Picking up two wins would almost ensure a playoff spot, given they hold serve against those they’ve already defeated.
Not only is the pitching and defense there to help Summit, but the bats have shown signs of being nearly impossible to slow down.
The Lady Jaguars registered 19 hits in their win over Lancaster and 13 hits while trouncing Seguin, and a few players are hitting over .500.
One of the players making others take notice at the plate is Shanice Akins.
Akins is hitting .580 and is headed to play at Arkansas-Pine Bluff next year.
A pleasant surprise has been the over .500 hitting of Madelyn “Maddie” Farrow.
Farrow, also a standout golfer at Summit, has figured out how to translate her swing for either sport for productivity. She’s now hitting cleanup for Summit.
The secret, though, Hale said, is limiting the outs given an opponent.
“If you can limit a team to three outs, you have a good chance to win,” he said. “You can’t give them four or five outs (due to errors). The more times a batter sees a pitcher, the more likely they are to get a hit.”
Putting it all together will hopefully be cemented by the leadership of the senior captains, Akins and Macias.
“I’d love it for the seniors to make it to the playoffs,” Hale said. “They bring great leadership. We didn’t have captains last year but we needed a go-between for the players and coaches. They were elected by the players.”