- May 19, 2015
WINDERMERE — There are times when the ball moves around the infield for the Windermere Prep softball team from 18 to 11 to 17.
No, those numerals don’t represent jersey numbers but rather the age of the players wearing them.
The Lakers (4-10) have one of the unique rosters around the area this spring, with players ranging from two twin sixth-graders in Madison and Meredith Workman, at just 11 years old, all the way to three Division I recruits in seniors Sydney Pollock (Southern Miss signee) and Racquel Fournet (Florida Gulf Coast signee), along with junior Cassie Parr (Florida Gulf Coast commit).
Windermere Prep has fielded a varsity program for just three years, and, beyond the age gap, there is also a lot of relative inexperience on the Lakers’ roster. The disparity in age has created an interesting dynamic among the girls and a unique challenge for the Division I recruits, who play an intensely competitive schedule for travel ball but must temper their expectations for the varsity season.
“I know that the expectations are different for each team, but I do my best each time I go on the field,” Pollock said.
That the three DI recruits even choose to play varsity is, in itself, a credit to each girl.
With the way recruiting generally takes place in the current travel ball-heavy atmosphere, playing for one’s school isn’t even necessary to play in college. Still, all three expressed a desire to represent their school, get in extra reps and help along the other girls in the program so that the program will continue to grow on campus.
“This is all sort of a rehearsal for college,” head coach Wes Pollock said. “It’s an opportunity, I think, for them to be leaders.”
That role as leaders and role models is something all three say they take seriously, especially when it comes to their youngest teammates.
“We’re kind of like their role models,” Fournet said, referring specifically to the Workman twins. “They have a lot of potential, I think. … I feel like I’m like their big sister.”
Although the Lakers haven’t recorded as many wins as they might have liked, the team has continued to gel, and its coaches and players feel like they may be able to surprise some folks come district tournament time.
“We’re playing better ball now … we’ve gained some momentum entering the playoffs,” said Wes Pollock, who is also a coach with the Windermere Wildfire travel softball program.
For Sydney Pollock and Fournet, it is particularly important that the two seniors enjoy each remaining game — win or lose. Best friends since fifth grade, the two standout players will go off to different colleges next year.
“It’s going to be tough,” Sydney Pollock said. “I know we’ll still keep in contact. … But it’s definitely going to be hard with both of us.”
As the junior among the DI recruits, Parr, too, will miss the departing seniors once they have moved on to the next step in their careers. That said, Parr — who will be reunited with Fournet at Florida Gulf Coast upon her own graduation — believes the team can continue to improve with its young core even after the two talented seniors have departed.
“I’ll definitely miss them, and it’ll definitely change the game, change our team,” Parr said. “But I think also, we’ll still have a bunch of girls, and we’ll still keep getting better.”
The bright future for the Lakers is perhaps best embodied by the diminutive Workman twins. Although they occasionally show their maturity — and perhaps a lack thereof — the sisters have earned their place as starters this season and have endeared themselves to their older teammates.
“They’re sisters, and they fight — sometimes, they’ll just start arguing on the field and that’s pretty funny,” Parr said. “They definitely make us laugh.”
The Workman twins said they have gotten used to the incredulous looks of opponents and supporters from other teams paired with questions such as, “Are you supposed to be that small?” They also say they have gotten acclimated to the level of competition, often taking on girls six and seven years their senior.
“After a while, you kind of get used to it,” Madison said. “In the beginning, (other teams) would be like, ‘What?!’ … Now it’s just kind of normal.”
As the season progresses, the two girls say they’re both improving because of the tough competition at the varsity level and that they’re lucky to have role models such as the trio of college recruits.
As for the sisterly fighting, Meredith Workman said they do their best to wait until they’re off the field to go at it.
“I don’t usually fight with her on the field,” Meredith said. “We encourage each other on the field — we save the fighting for later.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].