- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
Another regional tournament berth seemed within reach of the Comets’ varsity softball team at the start of the 2011 campaign, despite the loss of several seniors from a team that captured both the regular season and tournament titles in the Western Valley District last year, along with a Northwest Regional Tournament berth. This year’s varsity softball team duplicated that feat and then some.
It finished the regular season unbeaten with a 19-0 record and added another four wins, two in the district tournament and two in the region tournament, finishing as Northwest Region Tournament runner-ups and earning a berth in the state tournament, its first since 2007.
Losses in the Northwest Region Tournament championship game and the first round of the state tournament in no way puts a damper on what the Comets accomplished this season, according to coach Melanie Saunders.
“There’s no reason in the world for these kids to keep their heads down. They’ve had a heck of a season, and they got to state this year,” the veteran coach said with a nod to her dugout following the 3-0 loss to Lee-Davis.
The team knew it had the talent and mental toughness to make the state tournament this year, but the coaches made a conscious effort not to talk about it, rather taking the season game by game.
That was a huge key to the Comet’s success this year, Saunders pointed out.
“The thing we did as coaches was focus only on the game ahead of us. We didn’t look to state or look to region, and we took it game by game.
“That’s how our focus was able to stay so concentrated, and compact.
“You look down the road and that’s (state tournament) a long-term goal, but in the short term you have to play team by team to get there.”
“We’re going to see if we can get a little tougher or stronger competition next year and hopefully see pitching like this earlier on instead of later,” Saunders said with a nod toward Lee-Davis pitcher Kelly Heinz.
“They have a heck of a team and a heck of a fan base, but our parents, fans and friends got on those buses this whole year long and have really stayed behind us.”
Halifax graduates six seniors, including Jill Trickey, Jameshia and Jamilia Smith, Catilin Lawhorn, Dalyn Hall and Brittany Long, and Saunders noted their contributions to the team’s success.
“Especially for our seniors, what a year to be a part of, and for our underclassmen too,” noted Saunders.
“I told our girls not only did we learn a lot about softball, but this year there have been so many life lessons.
“If they didn’t know the meaning of teamwork before this year, they certainly know it now.”