With no upperclassmen, Lake Belton softball continues to shatter expectations
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - It’s hard to set expectations for a brand new program at a brand new school.
Especially when that school, and therefore its softball program, are made up of only freshmen and sophomores.
With such a young roster, Lake Belton felt like it was often overlooked throughout the season.
Sophomore Madison Lux tells me, “I think people underestimate us a lot. Then, when they see us on the field, they think we look like Juniors and Seniors. And we play like it too.”
With no upperclassmen, the group had no choice but to fill the leadership roles on the team, and Coach Blackburn made it clear from day one that they would be held to a higher standard.
“I told them early on, ‘I’m going to treat you like Juniors and Seniors because you’re on Varsity. I am going to expect high things out of you. As long as you give me max effort you are going to achieve all the goals we have set,” explains Blackburn.
The team has already accomplished a lot this year, making it to the Regional Finals this week, but their main goals are still in front of them.
Coach Blackburn says, “It’s to get further. Our goal is to be playing next week in Austin. They came up with that goal. I keep reinforcing the fact that they do have the talent to get there, we just have certain steps we need to take.”
Amazingly, with COVID canceling the postseason last year, the players on Lake Belton’s roster had played a combined zero innings of playoff softball coming into this season.
Without that experience, Coach Blackburn had to find another way to inspire his team to be “All in for Austin,” where the state seminfinals and championship are held.
Sophomore Hannah Jensen remembers, before the season, “He took us down there. We sat there and visualized everything - being there, playing there at the state tournament. We knew from the beginning we were going to be good, we just didn’t know how good.”
The Broncos have already exceeded any expectations people had for them. In doing so, they established a winning culture and set a lofty benchmark for the program moving forward.
Coach Blackburn explains, “They set the bar pretty high for every team to follow. Now the expectation has to be the fifth round. If you don’t get there you look at it like it might not have been a successful season. The bar is high, but that is a good thing.”
Lake Belton will play a best-of-three series with Liberty this week, with the winner advancing to the state semifinals.
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