Somewhere toward the end of the fall season the Pawhuska softball team found themselves.
They realized they were a team with little experience, a lot of heart and a chance to be better than most people thought they could be.
They realized they could prove everyone wrong, and they did when they won the district title over Newkirk 3-0 on Sept. 23 and advanced to the regional tournament.
They were eliminated after two games in the regional tournament but accomplished a lot for a team that wasn’t supposed to go very far.
Pawhuska head softball coach Patrick McCarty said he knew he had a young team but not once did he doubt his team’s abilities once they were all on the same page.
“Some people didn’t think we’d make it to districts and we won it,” he said. “They had a little bumpy patches which we knew they could overcome, they were a better team at the end of the year than they were at the start of the year.”
The team started off with four seniors, one was a first-year player and another had only played half of the last season. He knew his team was young so he decided it was best to take the day-by-day approach with them.
He had them set some goals and the young team decided they wanted to win districts, regionals and then a state title. They also decided they were going to work hard, play with effort and attitude.
Katie Malone, a senior who recently rediscovered the sport, said the team knew they were underrated but that’s what drove them to be better. She added that once the team came together as one, she noticed that things changed in a positive way.
“We had a lot of problems along they way and we know that people doubted us and didn’t think we would go far, we just had to overcome some challenges in practice and get our game to where we needed to,” Malone said. “At the end of the season whenever we had districts everything really changed, we kind of knew it was all or nothing, win or lose, our team grew really strong, and everyone was helping pump each other up.”
McCarty said in the regional games the team ran into some error trouble that essentially cost them the game and a chance at the state title.
Once the bats were put away and the helmets were hung he said he was still very impressed with his team.
“They were so much better at the end of the season compared to the beginning, and that’s really all that I could ask for,” McCarty said. “They had good attitudes, they worked hard and had good effort.”
Some of that effort resulted into two of the Osage team members, Whitney Hutson and Jordyn Wahpekeche, who were picked to play in the All-Conference Softball game on Oct. 3 in Blackwell.
Hutson, junior, was awarded an All-Conference Award and Wahpekeche, sophomore, was give the All-Star Award.
McCarty said three of his players were given All-Conference awards and two were on the All-Star team, which shows how much talent the team had.
“They did a good job,” he said. “That’s kind of an honor, there was only one other team more represented than Pawhuska and that was Perry, who had six girls with honors.”
Hutson said she started playing t-ball as a kid and it eventually blossomed into softball. Last year she was the All-Conference third baseman and this year was selected as the All-Conference catcher, and she was on the All-Star team this year and last year.
She said it’s nice to know her hard work has paid off.
“It makes be feel that I’m recognized,” she said.
McCarty said last year Hutson had better statistics but excelled in every game this year. He said she’s someone the team counts on when the pressure is on.
“If the games on the line she’s one of the kids you want in the game,” he said.
Hutson’s mother is Julia Hutson.
Jordyn Wahpekeche, sophomore, played third base and spent some time as a short stop.
She said she’s played softball for a “long time” and was ecstatic when she learned she was being given the All-Star award as a utility player.
“I was really excited,” she said. “I was proud of myself, proud of the other girls too that got the awards, I was mostly just excited.”
The 15-year-old is the daughter of Jennie and Justin Wahpekeche.
She said she played on and off on the varsity team last year and noticed a big difference in teamwork this year.
“I think we did really good, we came together as a team a lot better then we did my freshman year,” she said. “Regardless of more losses than wins, overall we did pretty good.”
McCarty couldn’t agree more.
The three-year coach said his young team has proven that under any circumstances they are capable of pulling through. He said in the end the team found that they are capable of a lot of things, despite the opinion of others.
“When you get to know them they are great kids, they have a good sense of humor, keep you on your toes,” he said. “They’re as good as anybody around, real skilled players, they’re great kids to be around.”