The image is still all too vivid for the Goddard softball team.
As the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A tournament, it was supposed to be a march to the championship game for the Lions and a showdown with Bishop Carroll.
Instead, Goddard fell to Mill Valley 5-2 in the semifinals, then lost to Maize South in the third-place game.
“We still haven’t talked about it,” junior pitcher Megan Graf said. “And we’re a pretty close team.”
That seems to be the avenue Goddard has taken this spring — use a new season as motivation, rather than past disappointments.
But just because nobody talks about last May doesn’t mean it hasn’t been thought of.
“I think the motivation from losing last season is just implied,” junior Miranda Rohleder said. “We were pretty disappointed because the expectations are set really high.”
For just that reason, coach Rita Smith chooses to look only at the present. She doesn’t want too much emphasis being put on the postseason, despite that being the ultimate prize.
“The girls know that we definitely have a target on our backs and everyone will be shooting to beat us,” Smith said. “We can’t look ahead and we need to just take it one game at a time and hopefully be playing our best ball at the end of the season.”
Undoubtedly Goddard has the talent to put itself in position for a successful season.
Graf went 12-3 last season as the Lions’ top pitcher. She defeated every team in the Division II of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League.
Rohleder hit .400, including 16 extra-base hits.
Goddard’s top offensive player was Morgan Bohanan, who has signed to play at Kansas next season. She led the Lions with a .582 average, five home runs, 33 RBIs and 33 runs, along with 16 walks.
“We know other teams think we are going to be really good,” Bohanan said. “But we embrace being a team to beat. We know not to get too cocky. We have veteran players who know how to handle it.”
The veteran players — Graf, Bohanan, Rohleder and senior catcher Megan Dougherty — will have to produce early because several inexperienced players will be thrust into significant positions.
“We have two seniors that are good leaders in Morgan and Megan Dougherty,” Smith said. “Out of the 11 varsity players, five are upperclassmen and the other six are freshmen and sophomores.”
Bohanan feels like the biggest challenge for the Lions is not getting too far ahead of them and taking the regular season for granted.
“We know the season will be a challenge,” Bohanan said. “But we have the same expectation and the one goal we’ve always had, and that’s win state.”
AREA PLAYERS TO WATCH