Fourteen high school girls, dressed in matching green mesh jerseys, each with a bold font “Archer” across the front and a unique number on the back, walk in a garrulous, mobile herd onto their home field. A diamond of dirt with four white bases at the corners and what seems like endless lush green grass around it glistens in the spring sunshine. The girls tune into a remarkably graceful unison as their ponytails sway back and forth together.
After several minutes of stretching, pep talks, and warm ups, the girls take their positions. As one of those Archer girls steps onto the pitcher’s mound, behind home plate, into right field, or in front of third base, she becomes more than a high school girl in a matching outfit.
She becomes an athlete. Suddenly, her outside world of grades, lunch, weekend plans, fashion, and gossip goes silent. She is in ‘the zone.’
The girls play six intense innings and as the sun beats down on their bare arms and adds a few new freckles to the bridges of their noses, they gather outside the gleaming silver fenced dugout, awaiting the wise words of their beloved coaches.
Coach Lennon, equipped with his trademark forest green Archer athletic gear and a handful of sunflower seeds, keeps the athletes’ bright, hopeful eyes on the prize with a reminder of the point of it all: every time they take the field, the team is securing crucial wins, improving standings in league, and are making its way to play-offs.
Coach Petix’s encouragement reinforces the balance the girls have found between the intensity of the competition and the cheerfulness of the camaraderie. She never fails to be ready with an extra visor, a band-aid, and the best bunting advice.
Coach Benjamin’s watchful eye perfects every skill the team has acquired. Every play is performed with accuracy and speed from her tireless attention to each throws’ arc, each fly ball, and each slide into a base.
Coach Alex marks up the book with play-by-play statistics but brings more than just numbers. She sends her infamous “vibes” to batters. Her magic sends their hits into the grassy abyss and the runners to home plate. With all four coaches there at the sidelines, the athletes coalesce into a well-oiled machine.
The seventh inning begins and the girls break the huddle with a resounding cheer that bounces off the brick walls and fills the stands with an exciting new wave of confidence. After another nerve-wracking inning, the umpire announces that the Panthers have defeated their opponents.
Ponytails bounce, high fives are exchanged, hugs are shared, snacks are devoured, and equipment is picked up. The girls return to their worlds of grades, lunch, weekend plans, fashion, and gossip but with a new attitude about it all.
High school might be difficult, but these girls have seen what they are capable of, and that will translate into everything else they do. Tomorrow, they walk onto the field and do it all again, building on their triumphs and struggles of the day before.
That’s us. We have already achieved so much, yet we are a very young team. Looking back at our records at this point in spring last year, I can see how far we have come. Right now, we boast an overall 15-3 record. We’re the team that made Archer history by not only making it to CIF playoffs and being recognized in the polls, but keeping a 7-0 undefeated league record and being league champions!
This past Thursday, May 17, we played the first ever playoff game ever held on Archer’s historic campus. With an unprecedented showing of panther pride from the full stands, we left the field with a 16-2 victory over the North Country Christian Crusaders. The team continues on to the CIF “sweet sixteen” Southern Section round; we cannot wait to continue to make history at our next game on Tuesday, May 21 (opponent yet to be determined by other “thirsty 32” results)!
These girls, coaches, uniforms, scores, sunflower seeds, dirt, bats, cheers, fly balls, freckles, statistics, sweat, and laughs together make this year’s Archer Varsity Softball team what it is. We have accomplished so much already and I can’t wait to see where the rest of this season takes us as we face new competition during playoffs.
Remember to follow the teams on Twitter@ArcherAthletics to keep up with all athletic news.