“If anyone had told us at the beginning of the season that we would make it to round four, none of us would have believed it," Stutts said. "I just want them to know that they can do it again. This should give them confidence they can go far.”
At the beginning of the school year, no one in the Seven Lakes locker room had a belief that they would go deep in the playoffs.
Before the start of Seven Lake’s softball season, first-year head coach Holly Koopmann had a meeting with the team and asked them what they wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year. A couple of players said that they wanted to finish better than fourth in district, but no one brought up bigger goals.
“I looked at them and I said why don’t we shoot for first,” Koopmann said. “They looked at me like I was crazy, but I told them right then, ‘ya’ll are good, you don’t realize how good each and every one of you are.’”
The Spartans took Koopmann’s message to heart, and after defeating Katy during the first round of district play, the team truly started believing they could do something special this season.
That season culminated in a memorable playoff run and a regional semifinals appearance for Seven Lakes, the teams first in six seasons. But it came to an end on Friday with a 10-0 loss to defending state champion Deer Park in a one-game series.
“We may not have won tonight, but this whole run, this whole experience was so awesome,” said senior shortstop Mackinzie Stutts. “My freshman year we didn’t even make playoffs, last year we lost in the first round, so it was so fun to go this far. To play these high pressure games. None of this have ever experienced this before so I’m really happy I was able to in my senior year.”
Seven Lakes could never get the bats going in the loss, with a lack of baserunners keeping the Spartans from getting anything on the board.
Deer Park scored one run I the second, one in the third and two in the fourth to take a commanding lead before putting up five runs in the fifth and one in the seventh innings.
But despite Seven Lakes taking the loss, it was a night for celebration of a great season and the culmination of the hard work from the group the entire season.
“These girls completely bought in to everything we were doing,” Koopmann said. “You could see it every day in practice, every single day. I never had to ask them to buy in, none of the coaches did, they just were in it from the beginning. To have that from a group is really special.”
Koopmann came in wanting to build a culture and did just that, with a playoff run that will improve the returners in the future.
“The experience alone is so huge,” Koopmann said. “Even if they didn’t play, they got to see these games, see and feel this pressure and see what it takes to be successful at this level. I don’t think any of them had ever played a game as big as this, so next year it wont be a first.”
The Spartans will bring back a strong class of returners next year despite the loss of Stutts, Meghan Kelly and other seniors. Stutts wants to make sure that those players believe in themselves and push themselves to go further.
“I just want to tell them to have confidence and know you can go far,” Stutts said. “If anyone had told us at the beginning of the season that we would make it to round four, none of us would have believed it. I just want them to know that they can do it again. This should give them confidence they can go far.”
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