With the end of the spring season athletic seasons, comes time for reflection from players and coaches. This past spring Salt River High School competed in baseball and softball and both had a successful season from two perspectives.
The Lady Eagles softball team entered the state tournament as the No. 24 seed and upset the No. 8 and 9 seeds in the tournament, before falling to the No. 1 seed Pusch Ridge. Salt River athletic director Shawn Lytle said he believed the team was better than a 24 seed, but the team played up and down all year, which affected their ranking. Head coach Lynnann Yazzie said as a team the girls had a lot of ups and down throughout the season, but definitely learned a lot.
“I could see that individually these girls were such great players, but because we had so many new additions to the team it took time to get used to playing together,” she said. “We had those times when we lost to teams that I know we should have easily beaten, but we also had those times when everyone clicked and we were beating teams by 10 runs or more.”
Yazzie said this year’s team seemed more competitive because they had more dedication and more motivation coming from the players themselves.
“I think they believed they could be successful and that definitely made a difference,” she said. “Another reason why there was a huge change from last year to this year was the fact that the make-up of this year’s team was very different. My assistant coach was new and I had about 12 new players. More than half of my starting line-up was brand new.”
Yazzie said she is very proud of her girls for coming out and playing as hard as they did in the state tournament. She said they practiced hard to prepare and came out focused on the games.
“The fact that we were a 24 seed playing a 9 and 8 seed did not discourage them. We knew that we were a much better team than the 24 and we proved that by beating two teams in the top 10,” she said. “I think we surprised a lot of other teams by showing how talented we were. Most importantly, I think we showed ourselves we can compete and we can beat any team in our division if we work hard enough.”
She hopes the girls will remember this for next season so they can start to be successful right from the start of the season.
The Salt River High School varsity team was non-existent last season. Lytle said they held a meeting and people said they were going to play and then when practice began only a few kids showed up. Then the year before, they had to cancel their last two games because they didn’t have enough players at the end of the season.
“So I told them last year, unless we have 15 guys out at practice, we would have to cancel the season,” Lytle said. “This year we tried again and kept good numbers all year long.”
Lytle said he believed the baseball team did great this season, ending with a winning record of 13-10 and they kept people on the team, never having to cancel.
“The coaches were very positive and the guys of course they believed they should have done better. They were one win away from making the playoffs,” he said. “But we have to keep in mind we were glad to have a team, but now we also have a winning season. We only graduated one senior and hopefully all those kids will come back and move forward and get even better.”
This summer the athletes will be working hard in the weight room in hopes of getting ready for next season, in all sports. Camps and scrimmages will take place for various teams, giving these athletes much needed game experience during the off-season.
Next season, SRHS will have a new track coach and Lytle is hoping more people will be interested in taking part of the team. He said with beautiful facilities and a proper coach, it will be a great situation for the track and field athletes.