A striking softball season


Louisa Joyce, Staff Writer

When it comes to women’s softball at RJ Reynolds, underrated is an understatement; it is striving for success. The softball team may have struggled throughout the last couple of years, having never won a conference championship, but it aims to change its program. With returning members and new prospects, the girls are determined to improve and grow the future of softball at RJR. 

In recent years there has been a struggle to find girls at RJR to want to play on the team. Many other sports have a greater interest in students.

“Numbers weren’t really good,” Head Coach Micheal McCulloch said. “Only about 14 girls came out; that’s just barely enough to have a team, so we’re just teetering on having enough girls to participate.”

McCulloch has been coaching the team for four years now, in the past being an assistant coach. His support for the team and effort to step up is only the start of the program. 

“I felt a lot of times female athletes don’t get supported as much as the male athletes do,” McCulloch said. “There was nobody on staff that was stepping up to be the coach about four years ago, and I thought I have a little bit of experience coaching from being an assistant coach here.”

Acquiring a coach was an issue for the softball team, but thankfully there was an urge to keep the game going.

“I kind of just felt like the girls deserve somebody who was just at least on staff that was respectable and would show up,” McCulloch said. “Doing a good job for them since in 2019 they didn’t have a coach at all.”

However, softball isn’t an easy sport. Through its difficulty and fielding complexity, it takes more than one coach to conquer.

“I do have two assistants, Coach Wiley, and Coach Holland,” McCulloch said. “Mr. Wiley is helping this year with the field, aligning the games before doing pre-game and post-game stuff, Coach Holland on the other hand is an assistant more like a community coach.”

Last year there had to be cuts, but since fewer girls are trying out, the softball culture at RJR is dwindling. Despite this, new and old players are trying their best. 

“We have a lot of inexperienced players who try very hard,” McCulloch said. 

Girls on the team this year say it’s a choice they don’t regret, such as first-time player and sophomore Zaria Finley. 

“I know a lot of the girls on the team, and last year I wanted to play, but I did shot put instead,” Finley said. “So this year, I decided to come down, and I don’t regret it.”

As the majority of players were new, it seemed as if fitting into the team wasn’t so hard to do. 

“Fitting in was very easy because, like I said, I knew some people, but even the people I didn’t know, I just was still able to fit in with everybody and understand the sport. It was very easy for me,” Finley said. 

Captain of the team, senior Reese Robinson, is trying to fill in on making the future of softball by including girls in hopes that this can continue to lead softball onwards. 

“Getting to try and get to know them and make them feel like they’re a part of the team by making friendships with them,” Robinson said. “Leading kind of by like inclusivity and just trying to make everyone feel included and part of a team because I feel like that kind of boosts morale a little bit.”

Even though there are obstacles, there is hope to overcome them and keep softball at RJR thriving by sharing and promoting it with other students. 

“We are attempting to get the word out more to more of the freshmen like Open House and encouraging them to give it a try, instead of something else, as other sports seem to spark more enthusiasm with the freshmen,” McCulloch said.  

The hopes for the season this year are to keep working and pushing for wins.

“For the girls, our main hope is we tied for sevens plays last year, so we’re hoping to tie for seventh again; we wouldn’t be going backwards at that point,” McCulloch said. “So we’d be going at least the same or forward at that point.”

In all, softball can only ascend from here soon to maybe win a championship in the future.  

“I’m hoping that we will improve on our positions and build a foundation for the program to grow in the future,” Robinson said.

The future of softball at RJR will continue to prosper and not be forgotten.