Coming into the season, Langley girls’ softball coach Jessica Roche could tell the Saxons had a chance to make an impact on the competitive Liberty District.
With teams such as Stone Bridge, Madison and McLean dominating the district, Roche thought her young team could compete — even without some of the big-game experience the Saxons’ opponents possessed.
“We start three freshmen, three sophomores and two juniors,” she said. “We really only have two seniors who start at any given time. So the girls are still trying to figure each other out in that lineup, but it’s gone well.”
Although a 9-6 record might not seem impressive, Langley shouldn’t be counted out. Close losses mask how well the team has played.
“We are really competitive every game and we play tough against a lot of teams,” Roche said. “When we first played Stone Bridge, we lost 11-7. When we lost 5-4 to Madison we were playing well. We’re on the verge of being really good.”
The first inclinations of a potentially strong season came when Langley blew out Concorde District contender Robinson, 16-4, in the first game of the season. Following that, Emily Templin pitched an 8-0 shutout against Marshall.
Then two games later, the Saxons nearly upset one of the area’s best teams — Stone Bridge. The Bulldogs, who own an 11-1 record this season, won 11-7, but not without having to put up one of their tougher fights against the Saxons.
Another standout game for Langley came when they faced Madison (12-3) — another one of the area’s best teams. Despite strong performances from Julia Weeks and Gabi Pijaca, Langley lost 5-4.
Those losses were eye opening for the Saxons, who realized even though they’re not considered the class of the district, they could compete.
Now Roche is stressing her team is on an even playing field with its opponents as the team begins the last past of its schedule.
“Our most important thing to learn is that we really are that good,” she said. “We just have to believe in ourselves for a full seven innings. When we make a mistake, we just have to realize it is just one mistake. You have to carry on and rally behind each other.”
Games with Stone Bridge, Madison and McLean remain on the schedule and, with playoff seeding at a premium, an upset could alter the playoff picture.
During the final stretch, the Saxons hope to lean on the play of Carina Sturm, freshman Maggie Natal and Kaitryn Evans, among others.
“We just have a lot of really good pieces on our team,” she said. “We don’t have that one superstar.”
Whether or not the Saxons can influence the district playoff race remains to be seen, but Roche said after a surprising start to the year a clear goal has been set — make a statement for upcoming seasons.
“We’re hoping that the second time around the district, we can remind everyone that we’re not to be taken lightly,” Roche said. “This group pushes each other and makes each other work harder. They’re a very good team.”