Things didn’t go smoothly for the St. Mary’s softball team this past season.
Injuries, first-time softball players and an ever-changing lineup could derail just about any team.
Not the Pirates. Instead, they had another impressive run.
And coach Dave Hyland, in his 22nd season at the helm, couldn’t be happier.
”I thought we had a very good season,” he said.
His team’s success made him The Gazette Preps Softball Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Last year, he guided the Pirates to their first playoff appearance in more than a decade.
And he did it again this season. But not without some challenges.
First, he lost senior outfielder Kylie Barta to a season-ending injury that she suffered during the girls’ soccer season.
That meant St. Mary’s — a small school with a limited pool of athletes — had to find help. It came in the form of three first-year softball players.
Kylie’s sister, Kacey, was one of them. Kacey stepped in as an outfielder.
Then, toward the end of the season, the Pirates had a major setback.
Their star pitcher, senior Peyton Richter, suffered a concussion.
That left her out of action for about a week, Hyland said.
The Pirates managed to play through the injuries and challenges to win a regional game and advance to the state tournament. But No. 12 St. Mary’s ended its season in the Class 3A playoffs with a 10-0 loss to No. 5 Faith Christian in the first round.
St. Mary’s finished with an 18-8 record.
Hyland said St. Mary’s wouldn’t have gone very far if it wasn’t for assistant coach Becki Pepper and pitching coach Henry McIntosh.
“They actually exceeded our expectations,” he said.