Durant Softball Team Finds Success Despite Season Obstacles

Coach Cuellar congratulates Durant runner during one of their three games this season

Durant High School’s Girls Varsity Softball team is in the middle of their season, having played in just three games since the season began with tryouts in January. While rival teams, such as Plant City and Newsome have played in eight and ten games respectively, Durant was forced to skip seven games in the middle of their season after back-to-back quarantine rounds sent the majority of their team home for two weeks.

She keeps a positive atmosphere within our team and she notices when we’re down. She does her best to make it as normal as possible with everything going on.”

— Emily Smith

The coronavirus has hindered sports around the nation, but, for Durant’s softball team, the only thing that has been affected is the number of games they played. The biggest impact was the four game tournament and the three games the following week they were forced to miss.

“It has set us back a lot,” said Coach Olivia Cuellar, “But we have a group that is able to adapt pretty quickly and they all work hard out of school.”

While many teams would crumble under the pressure of catching up, Durant has remained undefeated, scored 40 runs, and have yet to allow opponents to score.

Senior infielder Emily Smith credited the teams’ success to Coach Cuellar, saying, “She keeps a positive atmosphere within our team and she notices when we’re down. She does her best to make it as normal as possible with everything going on.”

Coach Cuellar also explained that the relationship between the girls on the team is strong, even with underclassmen and upperclassmen playing together. The girls earn their spots in the lineup by performance rather than seniority, allowing freshmen, like right handed pitcher Bricelyn Bedenbaugh, to shine alongside seniors who have already committed to colleges.

Of the teams’ 18 players, five are seniors. Smith has committed to Radford University, right handed pitcher Mckenna Thompson has committed to Miami-Dade University, and infielder Madison Hodge has committed to South Florida State University. The other two seniors, infielder Rayna and outfielder Rylee Trice, are uncommitted but hoping to pursue a future in softball in college.

“I think we have a very bright light at the end of the tunnel for our season,” Smith said. “Our team is a sisterhood, we all work together very well and have so much talent. I hope we make history.”