Highland Park softball players and coaches hope to make history this season, and not just for playing their first year at the Class 6A level.
More significant is the chance to make the first playoff appearance in program history after narrowly missing the postseason last spring.
“We had playoff hopes up until the very last game,” said HP head coach Meredith Townsend. “It was a good year for us.”
This season, which begins tonight at Carrollton Creekview, sees the Lady Scots moving into District 10-6A alongside schools from the Richardson and Mesquite school districts.
While that presents its challenges, Townsend said HP is ready to take a step forward after only losing one starter from a squad that finished with a school-best 17-8 record a year ago.
“It’s not something that’s scared them off. For me, 6A is not a difference maker for us,” Townsend said. “They are very confident going into this year. They feel really good about what this team has started and where it’s going.”
For whatever reason, HP has always lacked the depth and stability in its softball program to compete at the same level as most other sports at the school. Townsend recalls her first season five years ago, when a goal was to win six games.
Since then, the Lady Scots have steadily improved at both the varsity and JV levels, and have seen players develop through the HP Bombers club team consisting mostly of girls from the Park Cities.
HP now has a young but experienced roster, with the returnees including pitcher Katie Bell, who threw every inning for the Lady Scots last spring. The hard-throwing southpaw was one of the strikeout leaders in the Dallas area as a sophomore.
As HP has shifted away from being the underdog, Townsend also has tried to upgrade the nondistrict schedule. For example, HP will not host its tournament this year but instead will travel to round-robin event in Forney this weekend, where the competition should be tougher.
Townsend hopes the payoff will see the Lady Scots playing in May for the first time.
“Every year that goal has gotten a little bigger and more attainable,” she said. “You try to focus on smaller goals, one hit at a time or one play at a time. But in the end, I think they want to break the cycle. I think they want to be done with it and move on. It’s an important goal for everybody.”