DCA softball program seeks staying power in second act

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Danville Christian is starting a softball program from scratch. Again.

Just over a decade after the program won consecutive state championships and five years after it went dormant, the Lady Warriors are back in the game.

They are even enjoying some success in the first season of their second act, including their first district victory last week.

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And they believe they are laying the groundwork for a program that will have staying power this time around.

“I think it’s here to stay,” sophomore Paisley Metz said.

DCA has fielded teams in recreation leagues in each of the past two years, but this is the school’s first interscholastic team since 2016.

The team is young and inexperienced, with no seniors, only one upperclassman and a handful of middle school girls on the 13-person roster.

And yet it has won almost half its games. The Lady Warriors won both games they played last week to improve to 5-7, and they got their most significant victory to date Thursday at Millennium Park when they defeated Danville 22-7 for their first win in 45th District play.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these girls, the way they’ve come together, banded together this year, and in our first season to get our first district win is pretty big,” DCA coach Beau Wilson said.

DCA fielded teams in the Kentucky Christian Athletic Association from 2009-19 and won back-to-back KCAA state championships in 2012 and ’13, with Shayla Smith and Katherine Raines winning the most valuable player awards in those two state tournaments.

The Lady Warriors played in the KCAA through 2019, the last year before the school became a full member of the KHSAA, but they didn’t play in the state tournament that year and they didn’t return to the field in 2021 after the 2020 spring sports season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s team started with a poster that was put up in the school and a sign-up sheet, and both Wilson and the players said there has been a great deal of progress since practice began.

Wilson said many of the girls struggled to catch fly balls when he first saw them in their recreation league days and he said there are still mental and physical mistakes that result from inexperience, but sophomore catcher Cambria Jacobs said defense has been a strength for them on the days when they have played well.

“We have really good defense on some days. I think that’s what really carries us,” Jacobs said. “On the days when we have really good defense our hitting is better. Our defense starts us up.”

However, Jacobs and Metz said their biggest area of improvement isn’t measurable between the lines.

“I think it’s a mindset,” Metz, the Lady Warriors’ primary pitcher, said. “Our mindset has improved so much.”

Tatum Boyd is DCA’s leading hitter at .400, Mya Overstreet is at .391 with three triples, followed by Presley Metz at .318 with a team-high nine RBIs and Sawyer Mangum at .300 with eight RBIs.

The Lady Warriors’ schedule consists mostly of small schools – most of the largest schools it will play are in its district – but just about every school they play is larger than DCA.

“We’ll come out and play our district teams, but then obviously we’ll want to play teams that are more like us,” Wilson said. “We have a high school enrollment of 78, and you figure half of those are girls and then half of them don’t play sports.”

Wilson is with DCA for the long haul. He has four daughters, and he wants them to have a team to play on when their time comes.

The Lady Warriors’ goals for this season are to be competitive in the district tournament, and Wilson said he hopes they can become consistently competitive in the years to come.

“We should be building a foundation where we can compete in the district every year, and in the region,” he said.