Sioux Falls fastpitch softball team, Drake Orthodontics, has been around for a few years now, but the past two seasons have been great for the team. This year they are playing in the 16u competitive A, second year league. They have a very steady team now and that is the biggest advantage a team can have. If they know each other really well and can connect with each other, they can all know what a player is going to do before it even happens. I asked the team a few questions to try and get a feel for the whole team.
After having a steady team for 2 seasons, how does it feel to lose old players and gain new ones? “It’s really hard to lose players because our team has made such a strong friendship, but it’s always interesting to bring in new players to see how they will fit in with our team”, says 2nd baseman, Baylie Embry. She also says, “I think that the team stays so close together because whenever we do get to see each other, we all just click and have a good time that the time we don’t see each other as much is trumped by all the fun we have together.” So with a team of 9 girls, there has to be some girls that don’t see eye to eye, right? Outfielder, Hanna Honerman responded to if all the girls get along with each other, “I would say yes for the most part, we do. There have been times when people have fought or not gotten along, but we always talk things over right away so no one feels left out or hurt. We have a really close relationship and don’t really have any issues or anyone who doesn’t like someone else. I couldn’t ask for a better team relationship than what we have.”
What are the girls’ favorite team memories? “Favorite team memory would have to be after we all were arguing about everything going on, we came together and started talking about everything that was going on in our lives. We just became really close with each other and started understanding what was going on with each other and we just developed a bond that I’ve never had before with another team. It was by far the best experience I’ve ever had playing with this group of girls. It was crazy to realize how much is going on behind-the-scenes that nobody ever talked about and I think as we developed those bonds, we play better together on the field together because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we really just come together. It was really fun to play the rest of the season knowing that we have each other’s backs and there’s nothing to worry about when you step onto that field because we aren’t just teammates, we are a family,” says pitcher/ 1st baseman, Jasmine Schneider. With everything that goes on during the softball season, how do you get your mindset focused on the games? Outfielder, Alexis Smith said, “Like most athletes, I try to get pumped up. Before every softball game, I listen to the song, Blessed Be Your Name. It makes me focused and ready to play. It makes me realize how blessed I am to be able to play.”
Playing with the same team for 2 years, there has to be a bizarre tournament that the team has been to. Honerman suggested, “The most bizarre tournament we have ever been to would have to be one of the times we went to nationals because it’s the biggest and longest tourney we do all summer and we never really know what’s going to happen. We play different teams and get to do a lot of fun and different things the whole time we are there. It’s just a crazy, fun experience to be able to go to something like that.” When asked what this team’s greatest achievement has been, pitcher/ 3rd baseman, Telishia Farley, stated “Two years ago we went to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the big NAFA Nationals tournament and we got 8th place.” Winning 8th place and 9th place at the NAFA Nationals Tournament two years in a row has to be exciting, but could the team have gotten a better place the last two years? “Of course, but hey, whatever happens, happens. But we gave it our all, that’s what matters the most. We played as a team and hung like a family. Still felt great coming home with the feeling of how good we did. We earned it, especially playing at 12:00 am in the year of 2014. It was a great experience.” Alexis Smith couldn’t have put that any better.
This team is in it all together or not at all. Being able to win almost all of their games doesn’t just come from skill. It comes from working together as a family. So what are the girls’ expectations for the next few seasons to come? Outfielder, Shannon Dancler puts it into words as, “I want to grow so close to the team that we are able to sense what we should do during a play.” Wishing the team good luck for the next seasons to come.