The Mountain Pointe softball program believes it is a team on the rise.
The Pride entered the week at 7-11, having already one more win through 17 games than it had through all of last season when they finished with a 6-15 record.
Coach Mel Wendell attributes a lot of Mountain Pointe’s early success to the team’s senior leadership.
Headed by co-captains Nyla Wambold and Ciara Gonzales, the Pride boast a total of six seniors. Their commitment to the team on and off the field is proving to be a difference-maker so far this season.
“Senior leadership is a big thing,” Wendell said. “We have a multitude of seniors. (Wambold and Gonzales) are leading our team exactly where it needs to be and pushing them.”
Losing only one senior (Cecily Abbadessa) from last season also seems to have given the Pride an edge in team bonding and familiarity. Wendell recalled coming together at the end of last season in an effort to bond and understand one another better.
“We talked at the end of last year, ‘Well how are we going to continue into this year?’ and the girls did that in the offseason,” Wendell said. “They stayed together, we continued team bonding, so I feel like we’re just continuing to move up from where we were last year.”
It’s clear that the effects are finally being seen.
“I like the team this year,” Wambold said. “It’s a lot of older girls that I’ve been playing with for a while and Hannah (Hoban) and Kristen (McCann) are good adds.”
It would be somewhat of a crime not to mention the two freshmen. Hoban, a catcher, and McCann, a pitcher, have made the transition to the high school level to become reliable contributors.
It was evident in Mountain Pointe’s 16-4 victory over Mesa last Wednesday when they made the impacts they are slowly becoming known for.
McCann secured the win by pitching five innings, allowing four runs and striking out three. She even provided herself with some run support, hitting two singles with an RBI.
As for Hoban, her contributions came from behind the plate and in the batter’s box. Hoban rode some clutch hitting, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two doubles. Through eight games on MaxPreps’s she was tied with the team lead of 11 RBIs.
It is a sign that this year’s turnaround might not be a one-year blip on the EKG reading when it comes to the pulse of the program.
“Being that we do have two strong freshmen that came in and we only lost one senior last year, that’s another up from where we were last year,” Wendell said.
Wambold admitted the freshmen’s solid performances don’t leave a lot of room for her experienced teaching.
“(Ciara and I) just try to teach the girls what we can,” Wambold said.
Looking forward, Wendell is ensuring her team doesn’t get too ahead of themselves. While Wambold can see the Pride making a run should they make it to state, Wendell is preaching a subdued approach.
“Instead of having the main focus of ‘We want to win this game’ it is about winning every inning and (then) every game,” Wendell said. “And by doing that, that will give us the opportunity to be successful and win the game outright.”
The strides Mountain Pointe has made this season in leadership and bonding have taken them this far.
There is still work to be done before the postseason becomes a reality, but it is clear that the Mountain Pointe program is beginning to climb out of the doldrums that has plagued the team in recent losing seasons.
Chris Cole is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.