After the first tournament of the season, things weren’t looking great for Ryan’s softball team.
The Lady Raiders took a trip south for the Bryan/College Station tournament, and they came back with one win and five losses.
Since that point, things are looking a lot better.
The Lady Raiders have won seven of their last 10 games and are looking to find a way into the playoffs this season. That journey begins tonight, when Ryan plays at Flower Mound Marcus at 7:30 in the District 5-5A opener for both schools.
“After that first tournament that we played, I think we found ourselves a little more,” Ryan head coach Aimee Foutch said. “I think we just invested more into practices and what we’re doing, knowing the things we had to work on and doing that during that time.”
Last Friday’s 8-7 loss to Celina was a small bump in an otherwise strong close of nondistrict play for the Lady Raiders (8-8). The Lady Raiders will look to carry that momentum as they begin their rigorous district schedule.
Ryan struggled last year in district play and was tied with Coppell for the last spot in the standings. The team that finished ahead of Ryan and Coppell, Lewisville, snatched the district’s fourth and final playoff berth. Lewisville is the defending Class 5A champions.
“I just know that every night that you play somebody in our district, you have to come out and play a great game,” Foutch said. “You’re going to have to come out and minimize errors and put the bat to the ball and score some runs, because nobody’s giving you anything for free.”
In the pitching circle, the Raiders will be led by senior Carol Raabe.
Raabe, who is headed to San Jacinto College, was 5-6 with a 4.00 ERA prior to Friday’s game against Celina. Of the 67 runs scored on Raabe, only 31 of those runs were earned. At the plate, she was batting .395 and had five of the team’s six home runs.
Raabe said the team’s attitude shift has been a big reason why the Lady Raiders were able to recover from the rough start to the season. The senior pitcher said the team realized that it has to work together, and that chemistry and approach gives Raabe faith that Ryan can make the playoffs this season.
“We’re not the same team as last year,” Raabe said. “We’re actually going to come out here and want to work hard and actually want to win some games and work together as a team. I think that’s why I have so much faith in them.”
Raabe, along with centerfielder Kirsten Cope and catcher Megan Durante, who’s headed to North Central Texas College, are the three main seniors on Ryan’s roster.
Cope agreed with Raabe and said this year’s team is completely different and is mentally tougher than last year’s squad. The team will try to overcome some of the bad luck Ryan experienced last year in district play. Four of the team’s eight district losses were by one run.
Foutch said her squad has done a better job at the plate with runners in scoring position, one of the reasons the Lady Raiders were unable to find the extra run they needed in some of those contests.
The Ryan head coach said she her team will have to be at its best every night or the Lady Raiders could be sitting at home instead of getting ready for the playoffs. Foutch said she’s excited for what the future will hold for his squad.
“These kids really have a big passion for playing softball,” Foutch said. “They really enjoy doing it, so it’s fun to watch them grow and get better at what they do and hit their goals. It’s really exciting to see what our future’s going to be.”