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'Chase your new best': Shawnee softball team's newfound mantra has led to perfect start

After finishing 13-21 in its inaugural season in Class 6A last year, Shawnee has jumped off to a 16-0 start this season. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
After finishing 13-21 in its inaugural season in Class 6A last year, Shawnee has jumped off to a 16-0 start this season. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Shawnee fastpitch softball coach David Rolette gathered his group together after another dominant performance.

The scoreboard read 7-0 in the final game of the Shawnee Firelake tournament. Even though the game couldn’t have gone much better for the Wolves, Rolette looked at his players and asked the same question he always did this season.

“Was that your best?”

Their answer stayed the same.

“No.”

Rolette nodded his head.

“OK, keep chasing it.”

The end-game conversation has become a routine for the Wolves in the 2020 season. It’s something they look forward to after each win. Roulette says it drives and motivates them.

“Our mantra this year is, ‘chasing our best,’” Rolette said. “So I challenge the girls every day, ‘chase your best.’ Whatever your best was yesterday, that can’t be your best today. So, ‘chase your new best.’”

After finishing 13-21 in its inaugural season in Class 6A last year, Shawnee has jumped off to the best start any team could ask for this season.

Undefeated with 16 wins.

But consistently racking up wins is not what makes this team so special; it’s how they’ve won all those games. This season, the Wolves have outscored their opponents 139-3.

“This group is very talented to begin with,” Rolette said. “We started seven freshmen when this group came in and they were in the 5A state tournament as freshmen. So, they’ve just grown up over the past three or four years and now we’re a senior-heavy team, but all that experience has caught up with us.”

It has been a top-to-bottom cohesive performance for the Wolves this season. And it starts with the pitching of Anneca Anderson, Baylie Enright and Stormee Reed. Together the trio has not only pitched 13 shutouts, but all have thrown at least one no-hitter this season. That feat left Rolette chuckling in amazement.

“I’ve been on some dominant teams before that’ve had really good pitching,” Rolette said. “You had maybe one pitcher in the circle and you had to throw that pitcher all the time to win a lot of games.

“But when you have three of them that can really spot the ball and throw all of their pitches for strikes in any count, I think that’s where the domination comes from.”

It’s not just the pitching that has been dominant for Shawnee this season. The Wolves have matched their pitching with outstanding performances at the plate. Home runs are a common occurrence at Shawnee games.

“I feel like this year our bats have really come alive,” Rolette said. “As a team, we probably have close to 20 home runs in 16 games. We have four or five girls that can consistently blow it out of the ballpark.”

The powerful hitting wasn't something Rolette noticed at first. Oftentimes, during batting practice, he spent more time coaching minor mistakes rather than admiring how well his hitters were actually doing. It wasn’t until Tuesday that he removed himself from the dugout and decided to watch their hitting from a different perspective.

As a fan sitting in the stands.

“I just had to enjoy it for a moment," Rolette said. "It was very impressive.”

The Shawnee coaching staff is just as impressive as the players’ roster after adding Drew Burris, the former head baseball and softball coach at Ponca City, and Ricky Hammer, the former softball and baseball coach at Del City.

“I’ve been doing this for over 25 years,” Rolette said, while also mentioning outfield coach Justin Rivera. “And this is probably the most cohesive and talented staff that I think I’ve ever had."

It could be the mantra, it could be the skilled players or the experienced coaching, but whatever it is, it has worked for the Wolves this season and they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

“You throw all that together,” Rolette said. “You have a recipe to be really good or even to be dominant.”

James Jackson

James D. Jackson joined The Oklahoman in January 2020 to cover high school sports. He a University of Central Oklahoma graduate. During his time at UCO, James served as a sports reporter and Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, The Vista.... Read more ›

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