‘Family dynamic’ leads to strong start of softball season


Photo by Oceana Jin

The varsity softball team huddles on the field before their game against rival school Lamar at Delmar Stadium on Mar. 2.

Sophia Hernandez, Features Editor

In a winning sweep, the Lady Cardinals crushed the Westside Wolves, 8-0, on March 23 in their sixth district game. Bellaire’s Varsity Softball team is 4-1 in district play, with 10 games left in the season. Tonight they will face Heights High School at 7 p.m at Butler Stadium. 

“It was a very clean game,” pitcher and sophomore Claire Shelley said in reference to the win over Westside. “No crazy homeruns or really big plays, but we had a few solid hits and good catches at the plate.” 

Despite defeating rival school Lamar, 13-5 , early in the season, the Lady Cardinals suffered an unexpected loss to Heights High School on Feb. 16, 8-6.

“Heights has been our best competition in a very long time,” third base and sophomore Callie Hester said. 

The loss knocked Bellaire out of their spot to win the district championship, placing more pressure on the team to beat Heights the second time around to get back in the running for the district title. 

“Since the loss, the team has been working on chemistry between everyone and staying focused throughout all of our games,” Shelley said. “Our problem was that we were not quite focused enough for the first time we played Heights, so this Friday we’re going to be big about being ready and staying in the game the whole time.”

Despite unreliable scheduling and UIL COVID-19 restrictions, the team has maintained a strong game record over their other opponents while adapting to new practice and game protocols. Their flexibility has led to wins against Lamar, College Park, Chavez and Westside. 

“This season has been pretty different in comparison to others, obviously because of COVID, but we’re all making it work,” Hester said. “It’s harder because sometimes we feel more disconnected, but we all want to win and that brings us together.” 

The Lady Cardinals started practice on Jan. 15 and are adjusting to a new practice location along with social distancing guidelines. They practice every day from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. 

“We have to practice at Butler Stadium now, because the city of Bellaire wouldn’t give us the field we normally use because of COVID,” first base and senior Cami Ferguson said. 

Players sign in when they arrive, get their temperature taken and complete a HISD district survey. They must wear masks during practices and any time they are not on the field. 

“It’s really hard to play a sport outside and still have to wear your mask since it’s hot,” Ferguson said. “It’s definitely different than being inside and wearing your mask, that’s for sure.”

Under normal circumstances, the team gets additional practice games to prepare for the district season when they travel out of state tournaments, but the district cancelled all tournaments this year. Ferguson regrets missing the opportunity for team bonding and practicing plays. 

“It now makes practice not only about getting better but also learning about each other and supporting each other, because our team definitely has a family dynamic,” Ferguson said. 

COVID-19 cases among other high school teams have also thrown the softball season into a scheduling nightmare. With game dates constantly changing and being rescheduled last minute, the players must always stay open to the possibility that a game is going to happen.

“We have a group text, and it’s kind of just like, ‘if we rescheduled the game tomorrow at 7 p.m., who can be there?’ Ferguson said. “You just count the ‘I cans’, you fill in the positions, you’re like, ‘okay like we have a full team, let’s go play’. It’s a big communication game.”

Additionally, any COVID-19 exposure or positive case places the team on full lockdown for at least 10 days. 

“We haven’t had a team outbreak, which is definitely a plus because a lot of sports are struggling with that right now,” Ferguson said. 

Even with the setbacks, the players still have big personal and team goals for the season. 

“I want our team to have the best record in the district, and I also really want to keep being a starter,” outfield and freshman Mia Lopez said. 

“I want us to get to the playoffs this year, since last year the season got cut short and I still haven’t gotten to experience it because last year was my freshman year,” Hester said. “Everyone talks about the energy and I’m excited to experience it.” 

With 10 scheduled games left in the season, Ferguson remains optimistic about their game record because of the family dynamic among the team. 

“We’re definitely super close, I look at a lot of the girls that are younger than me like little sisters, and I think definitely a lot of the girls look up to the older girls too,” Ferguson said. “Everybody is just trying to make it work, we try to make it as fun as possible while being supportive so we can pull wins by working together.”