OVILLA – Long before the Ovilla Christian softball team ever took the field for the 2011 season, coach Mike Welch thought his team had a chance to do quite well. A large portion of the talent from the previous season’s roster was returning and the Lady Eagles were a seasoned group.
His expectations were high but the players were determined not to disappoint.
A 15-3 overall record including an 8-0 mark in district brought the program its first district title since 2003 and propelled the team back into the 3A TAPPS playoffs. It would lose a game to eventual state quarterfinalist Pasadena First Baptist but the one-run loss didn’t damage all that the team accomplished.
“I felt that we had the team really to go back to the final four. We were just one run away, one bad play away if you will from making it,” Welch said. “The team that we faced in the first-round of the playoffs they made it to the final four themselves. Pasadena First Baptist, they played a great game. It ended up being 2-1. We had the team to go back it just didn’t happen. It wasn’t in the cards for us.”
The Lady Eagles, a final four team in the TAPPS playoffs last season, have been a constant in the playoffs for the better part of a decade. But it had been some time since the program had won an outright district title.
All that changed thanks to the leadership of seniors Rachel McCarter, Tiffany Fine, Katie Bristow, Tiffany Fine and Morgan Reed who stepped up to lead the program to that unblemished district mark.
“It feels really good. Having an undefeated season is obviously awesome but I’m really proud of the team,” McCarter said. “We’re still young, we had five seniors but a lot of underclassmen and they stepped up.”
Along the way, the accolades rolled in for the players responsible in helping the program sustain its excellence.
Bristow, Kate Fegan, Lauren McCarty and Emily Burton each earned first-team all-district nods while Reed, Sady Johnson and Breanna Groom received second-team recognition. Rachel Morales was tabbed as honorable mention.
The biggest honors went to McCarter and Fine who combined for three superlative honors. Fine was selected as the district’s defensive player of the year while McCarter earned pitcher of the year and district MVP honors.
“Personally I don’t like to brag about it or anything but it does feel really good I’m not going to lie,” McCarter said of her honors.
Welch, who will be stepping away from the softball program to watch his son play baseball for Ovilla Christian next season, called the five seniors a great showing of leadership and each in her own way. Whether it was defense, pitching, hitting or being a motivator on the field and in the dugout, the group was key in getting the team back into the postseason and back to a championship level.
While a lot will change for the Lady Eagles next season, McCarter is confident the program will continue to find a way to win and won’t miss a beat in terms of contending for championships.
“It’s hard. There’s five seniors and we’re all kind of sad about leaving, we’ve been here since freshman year. I don’t want to leave the team obviously but they’ll be fine,” McCarter said.
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