EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Brooklyn Reiff's last name and to include the full list of awards distributed at the banquet.
“Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.”
That was the Prosper softball team motto and the overarching message from head coach Staci Jackson in this year's end-of-season banquet held on Monday, May 15.
Players, coaches and parents gathered at Eldorado Country Club in McKinney four days after the Lady Eagles season came to an end in the third round of the state playoffs. It was the first time the team had made it that far since 2004, back when Prosper was a 2A program.
“I'm super proud of where we got to and the battle we fought,” Jackson said. “We could have easily given up … that's the cool part about being a coach is that they did fight. They did want it. That's all I ever wanted to see.”
Some notable team awards were given. Junior pitcher Rachel Eckrote was awarded by Jackson as the team's most improved player — Eckrote threw three no-hitters in the regular season and had a 1.03 ERA in the playoffs.
Others included the “Big Stick” award for the team's best hitter, given to Miranda Ortega. The team MVP was awarded to senior Abby Smith, who will continue her softball career on a scholarship with Texas A&M next Spring.
“To be able to coach this kid is awesome,” Jackson said. “I cannot wait to see what great things she does being an Aggie.”
Smith and many of her teammates thanked Jackson for her role in changing the culture of the team in her first year as head coach. Jackson was previously head coach at Hebron High School for five seasons.
“She didn't care that the team wasn't fully expected to win,” Smith said. “She changed the legacy. She changed the atmosphere. She impacted all of us, reinstalled our love for the game, took this year and turned it around.”
A total of five seniors will be graduating in a few weeks and moving on from the Prosper softball program. Those include Smith, Ortega, Brooklyn Reiff, Sam Frommer and Natalie Filiatrault. Three of them are hoping to continue playing softball at the collegiate level.
Jackson made sure to highlight the academic success achieved by her team as well. The team had 10 student athletes selected to the Academic All-District team. Four Lady Eagles players finished in the top 3 percent of their class and eight players finished in the top 25 percent.
More All-District selections have been released to the team but not to the public. Four of Prosper's team members made the All-District Second Team and four more made the First Team.
Prosper may have not been able to defeat No. 1-ranked Forney in the playoffs, but Jackson looked at this season as an enormous success in her closing remarks.
“I wanted to create a family-like culture here,” Jackson said. “I didn't create that — the girls did. I know that the girls have learned not only what the game means to them, but what it means to their teammates. There will always be that little girl in the stands watching them, hoping to be just like them.”