As most of our readers know by now, both the Van Alstyne and Howe softball teams have been eliminated from the University Interscholastic League playoff season.
Both of these eliminations came after record-setting results in the regular season, Van Alstyne with 26 wins, while the Lady Bulldogs were victorious 20 times in 2014. Howe was eliminated by Caddo Mills, while the Lady Panthers fell to Whitesboro.
A few days ago, I was listening to ESPN when one of the basketball analysts, Jalen Rose I think, was discussing the NBA playoffs. His opinion was that Miami, the defending champs, and San Antonio, a team which has won three championships since the 2003 season, would have a big advantage over all others simply because they had been there and done that.
A recent local example would be the Dallas Maverick basketball team. In 2006, the Mavs won the western conference and held a 2-0 advantage over Miami in the NBA finals before falling to the Heat and losing the championship bid. In 2011, the Mavericks went on to defeat Miami for the franchise’s first world title, no doubt aided by that prior appearance.
It has been a few years since Van Alstyne and Howe softball reached the postseason, the Lady Bulldogs’ last experience coming in 2009.
When it comes down to win or go home time, the old coach, parent admonition of "just go have fun" falls on deaf ears.
Every at-bat, every chance in the field carries more weight and for those new to the experience, the weight is often too much to bear. The Lady Bulldogs lose only three players off of their 2014 team: Jaida Upchurch, Makenzie Duffee and Michaela Bledsoe. Van Alstyne’s lone senior is Rhondi Andersen.
Both will be going into new districts next season — Howe will compete against Whitesboro and Pilot Point among others in District 10-3A, while the Lady Panthers will face Whitewright and Tom Bean, two teams still playing in the extended season.
Both team’s will be more experienced next season, both will have had the opportunity to see what playoff softball is all about.
We can all hope that both will let that experience serve them well.