Preston High softball team positively charged

KINGWOOD — Any athlete can tell you how tough it is to play for a struggling program.
It’s no secret in the sports world that winning is what drives players the most, beyond any other factor.
Just one example can be seen with perhaps the most prolific and recognizable professional athlete today — LeBron James. Winning is what drove him to Miami with “The Decision”; it’s also what brought him back to Cleveland years later.
Winning is the factor that fuels free agent and transfer periods across the globe, and determines the longevity of coaches at many levels of the game.
It’s the reason the Cleveland Browns draft a new “franchise quarterback” nearly every spring, and the reason programs such as UConn women’s basketball, Alabama football and the New England Patriots flourish season after season.
Preston’s softball program knows a thing or two about the opposite end of the spectrum. The Knights haven’t had a winning season since head coach Mike Adams took the reigns four years ago, and the closest they’ve come is still a long way off the goal.
For Adams, it makes the attitude and dedication of his current class of seniors — Tori Dewitt, Lexie Goodwin, Courtney Christopher, Gracie Favro and Bailey Roy — just that much more amazing.
“To play as many games as we play, and to be positive throughout four years of this and to be able to stand up game after game, that’s a feature story in itself,” he said.
Despite seeing the strength of his girls for four straight seasons, Adams still finds their commitment to positivity in the face of adversity — both on and off the field — to be remarkable.
“We started with them and we had nine freshman, and the leadership that has grown is not so much about winning, but how they put their persona on for the game,” he said. “That’s huge — having a group that can stay positive through the whole game.”
It’s not just the zest in their attitudes that makes the group special to Adams, either. It’s the little things, like organizing pickup games and batting practice out of season and on off-days. It’s those types of decisions that lay the foundation for success.
“One thing they have done is, they have tried to get the girls to play more, even just pickup games at high school, just showing up to the field to play,” Adams said. “That’s something that was never done before. Whenever our girls can just get out there and hit the ball, that helps us tremendously.”
According to Dewitt, taking a large leadership role is what’s expected of her and her senior classmates. She wouldn’t dream of it being any other way.
“We take on a lot of responsibility handed down from our coach,” she said. “We all work together to keep the team straight and up to date.”
For Dewitt, the optimistic outlook and encouraging words for her teammates are top priority. In the eyes of the softball seniors at Preston, you have to be an adequate role model to be a leader.
“Our biggest role is just to set a good example for underclassman to follow on the field and in the dugout,” she said.
The ability to stick out the tough times and stay hopeful through seasons of tough outcomes doesn’t come easily, though, and it’s not a gift all athletes possess. Dewitt attributes the mentality to a passion for softball.
“I think we managed to stay positive and stick together because of our love for the sport,” she said. “We started really young together and have played ever since. Grace Favro and I have been pitching and catching together since I was 12.”
Regardless of the motivations or underlying causes, the impact such leadership values made is clear. Adams looks today upon a very different softball program than the one he started with in 2015.
“When I came here four years ago, we never made it past the third inning without a mercy rule,” he said. “We couldn’t make it out. Their impact is, every year we’ve taken steps forward.
“Sophomore year, we were able to go five innings. Their junior year, we took several teams to task. Their complete focus for four years and their dedication to the team speaks volumes.”
As Dewitt and her classmates prepare to bid farewell to the program in the next month, she is proud to have played the role she has — and hopes her time on the team will leave a lasting impact on her teammates’ attitudes toward the sport.
“I feel very accomplished from my first season to my last. It means a lot to say I was part of and an influence on a lot of the improvement,” Dewitt said. “I just hope my legacy to players is to stay positive and to play for the love of the game, the memories, and the experiences.”

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