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Asheboro’s Makenya Ayers makes a catch near the wall against Montgomery Central on March 31.  Eric Abernathy / Randolph Hub

‘The game is not all about winning’

ASHEBORO — The Asheboro High School softball team may not win a lot of games this season, but when it comes to enthusiasm, excitement and cheering their teammates on, they may indeed be conference champions.


Though the Blue Comets entered play this week without a victory, taking an 0-11 mark into Tuesday’s game with Mid-Piedmont Conference leader Oak Grove, there have been so many little victories along the way, little victories that make going through a tough season a lot easier to enjoy.


“I know the game is not all about winning,” said senior shortstop Morgan Coward, who is one of the leading hitters with a .375 average. ”It’s about how your attitude reflects you on the field and you are surrounded by other girls and you have to encourage them as well.


“I definitely think if you incorporate fun into what you are doing, everything is better because if you’re not having fun, you’re not playing the game right.”


Statistically, the numbers aren’t good. Entering last Friday night’s game with Montgomery Central, the Blue Comets had been outscored 148-8 on the season, meaning they had been averaging less than one run per game. That is one of the reasons the 10-8 loss to the Timberwolves Friday night at Pugh Field almost felt like a victory.
Numbers are important, when all you’re worried about is winning. But when the goal is to have fun and improve, those numbers take on less of a meaning.


“I think we focus on the little wins on the field and keep our heads up and encourage each other,” said senior Nubia Terry, who had a two-run homer in the third inning Friday night. “It’s really tough (being a senior), but I think about how we’re influencing younger girls and making it fun for them. 


“I had winning seasons before. It’s more about the memories we are making now.”


In the first 10 games of the season, the Blue Comets were competitive in just one of those, a season-opening 3-2 loss to Randleman. Aside from that contest, the Blue Comets have lost 19-2 to Northern Guilford, 19-3 to North Davidson and 14-1 to Oak Grove. They have been shutout six times by a combined score of 93-0. Those are just numbers as the seniors try and show the underclassmen the true reason to play softball.


“At the beginning of the season, I knew we were losing people and it was going to be a lot tougher,” said senior Sarah Hildreth, who hit a grand slam as part of a five-run seventh inning Friday night, which pulled the Blue Comets to within striking distance against the Timberwolves. “I knew we had to step up as a senior group and be positive throughout everything. Even a 10-8 loss is a positive for us and it will begin a lot of motivation for the rest of the season.”


Hildreth admits it hasn’t been easy.


“I have had my up and down moments, frustration and trying to keep my cool and not being so angry about losing,” she said. “But the big thing is everyone is getting better.”


Two other important cogs in keeping a positive mentality have been seniors Makenya Ayers and Taylor Davis, the team’s leading hitter who is currently injured. Junior Addison Allen has missed time and losing Davis and Allen has certainly had an impact on the team’s offense.


“We’re missing a couple of starters and that has hurt the offense,” veteran coach Ricky Martinez said. “We try to go out and win every game, but we have some girls who haven’t even played softball before and as long as they give 100 percent and do their best, which they are doing, I’m just so proud of them. 


“I just tell them to go out there and do the best they can and know your friends and teammates are cheering for you. Don’t get down on yourself. Once you get down on yourself, it’s hard to get back up.”


Against Montgomery Central, the Blue Comets surrendered 17 hits in falling behind 10-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh. But hits from Kassidy Babula and Coward plated one run and after a walk and a hit batter, Hildreth blasted her shot to pull AHS within 10-8. But that was all AHS would muster.


While most high school teams gauge their success on wins, that hasn’t been the case for the AHS softball team. 


“We might not be having the best season, but we’re having fun and that’s the most important thing,” Coward said. “For some of us, it’s our last year and we want to make sure we have fun every day.”


It certainly seems like that mission has been accomplished.