Girls’ softball begins with a bang

At Newbury Park High School’s softball field, the record breaking girls’ team practices how to become better every day and improve their bond as a team. The field has been there through many seasons, triumphs and defeats, and the girls plan to play to their full potential through the end of the season.

The beginning of the season can be rough on a team, despite preparation through the off season. However, this years’ varsity softball team defied expectations and took the record for the best start to a season the school has ever seen by beginning with an 11-game win streak. While team comradery is one of the main parts of any sport, this team takes it far beyond the on-field bonding.

While many softball players are involved with travel teams outside of the school team, there are many differences that are seen within it. The tight knit relationship between the players of the school team has brought them to create bonds that cannot be beat by any other team. Oftentimes, travel teams create competition between the players, however, Alyssa Carpenter, senior and team captain, believes the NPHS softball team plays for each other. “We rely on each other a lot, I feel like we are all really good friends. So to deal with the pressure [that comes with being on the team], we just talk to each other [and] we communicate. We all know each other really well and how to help manage each other’s stress and anxiety and whatever comes with it,” Carpenter said

Playing since she was 5-years-old, Dylan Yamamura, senior, has not only improved tremendously over the past 13 years, but she has also found the self-encouragement that it takes to go out on the field. As she grew up with recreational softball, she learned the basics of the sport, like how to swing a bat. Although she no longer learns the basics like this at such a high level, her knowledge continues to grow. The one similarity between these two levels: she was taught by the same coaches. “They have been with us throughout our whole journey in softball. Our coaches like to create a fun environment for us, so I think it is nice having them out there just wanting to make sure that we are having a good time. And that really helps with our relationship with them,” Yamamura said.

Preparing to play Division 1 Softball at University of North Florida, Taylor Cook, senior, has persisted with the sport since she was 7-years old. “It was the sport that always clicked for me and something that I enjoyed the most and had the most love for. I stuck with it because of the dedication and how far it has taken me,” Cook said.

Although team chemistry is a large contributor to the amount of successes the team has had, training and skills are a main focus for the athletes. Along with pre-season schedules during the school year with practices on and off the field, there is heavy dedication throughout the summer. “We also have summer practices which helps build up towards the season because we have been practicing for so long that by the time season rolls around, we are ready to go,” Cook said.

Playing all throughout high school, there are many teammates that come and go. Each player experiences changes that occur each season. This years’ softball team has brought excitement and enthusiasm to each other, which is showcased through their high winning average. “Everyone was excited to play, it wasn’t something that people were dreading. Everyone wanted to be there, everyone wanted to show up, everyone wanted to have a good season,” Carpenter said.

To many softball players, the sport is a game of failure. At times, softball can have one feeling as if they are on top of the world, but the next, it may have someone dealing with struggle and defeat. Understanding games built on failure is one of the biggest lessons and challenges that face softball players. For Yamamura, this is taken through a bright outlook. “You have to remind yourself that failing is how you’re going to learn and that you didn’t win that game or had a rough practice for a reason. And your failure is only there to help you get better,” Yamamura said. Carpenter has a similar revelation when it comes to the struggles and pressure that come with the sport. “You’re gonna fail more times than you succeed, so that’s really hard mentally too. [Playing the sport] is a lot, but it’s very rewarding when you come out on top,” Carpenter said.