HELENA – Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, first and foremost, high school athletics are supposed to be fun.
Don’t worry about the Helena High softball team forgeting that fact.
And when the Bengals are having a good time in the dugout, it shows on the field.
“I think that it’s a group that when they play loose, they play well, and that’s in all facets of the game,” said head coach Ryan Schulte. “When they try and do too much at an at bat or on a play, they don’t play as well. They make mistakes, or we don’t get the hits we need. This is a group that is starting to identify themselves. They got to play loose and they have to have fun. It’s a fun game, so why not go out and just enjoy being out here?”
This season, the young team is taking that message to heart, with a few additions to the uniform to celebrate big plays on offense and defense.
“We’ve actually started some new two-out things,” said senior Addie Slanger. “We got a cape, we got a chain for big ‘O’ (offensive play), big ‘D’ (defensive play). We got some new cheers coming, just to pump us up and getting us feeling the teamwork.”
“The girls have come up with some things, and that usually happens every year as they develop their own personality and our seniors learn their own leadership styles. They start to create their own things and do their own things to tie them together and to create more of that chemistry,” added Schulte. “That’s just where we were at this year, losing five seniors from last year, and then we’ve had to come up with our own identity for this group. And that’s what they’ve done a good job of doing. ”
“We’re focusing a lot on trust, and our young pitcher Mariah (English), she’s doing really great, really trying to trust her and have her trust us in return,” said Slanger. “So we’re doing a lot of team bonding and lots of talking and making sure on the same page as a team.”
No. 4 Helena High takes on No. 5 Missoula Big Sky Thursday afternoon at Mihelish Fields in Helena for a best-of-three series in the Western AA playoffs. The winner earns a trip to the State AA tournament, which begins May 24 in Helena.