The Reservoir High School softball team, which has traditionally finished in the middle of Howard County's standings, currently finds itself in a position the program is not accustomed to being in.
The Gators have enjoyed a strong first half of the season and hold a 12-1 overall record. The team also has an 11-1 mark in Howard County play and sits atop the league's standings.
"We're definitely having a lot of fun this year," senior center fielder Holly Daum said. "As a senior, it's cool to see us at the top of the standings after having been middle of the pack for the last three years."
Daum isn't the only senior who's enjoying Reservoir's rise this season. The Gators are led by seven seniors, all of which have been involved with the program for multiple seasons.
To head coach Julie Frisvold, that continuity has been one of the keys for Reservoir's success. It goes beyond the seniors as well, as the team has much of the same starting lineup as it did in 2017.
"Our seniors have really taken the lead, but they have a great supporting cast in our underclassmen," Frisvold said. "They've taken it on themselves to establish that we'll leave it on the field. We've talked about that frequently this season -- where do we want to be, and what do we want to accomplish, then doing our best on the field."
While Frisvold is quick to credit her players for the team's strong start, Reservoir's players believe their success starts with their coach.
The Gators are a loose bunch that likes to play with a lot of energy, which includes having an extremely vocal bench. According to Daum, that wouldn't be possible if Frisvold, whose players call her Friz, didn't create a comfortable environment for her players.
"Friz is supportive in every way; she doesn't put her players down," senior first baseman Breann Smith said. "Softball is a game of imperfections, and she has the mentality that even if our team makes mistakes we can still … recover, do better and get the job done. She builds us up to do better next time and makes the game fun."
Reservoir has been paced by a relentless offense that features dangerous hitters throughout the batting order. The Gators have scored double-digit runs in eight games and are averaging 12.5 runs per contest.
The offense has come through during a couple close games in recent weeks, which has helped Reservoir separate itself from other teams that are fighting to finish in first in Howard County.
On April 18, Reservoir found itself trailing Glenelg, 3-0, after four innings of play, with just one hit. The Gators made some adjustments and began to find success, cracking eight hits over the final three innings to win, 5-4. The victory snapped a five-game win streak for Glenelg.
"We had some extra fire in that game because Glenelg knocked us out of the state playoffs last year," Daum said. "We knew we had to bring our bats, and even though we started slowly, we eventually scored some runs."
More recently, Reservoir's offense stepped up in a game against Marriotts Ridge April 23. This time, the Gators struck early against Marriotts Ridge's star senior pitcher MiKayla Bernard, connecting on four hits with two outs in the first inning. The attack was punctuated by sophomore left fielder Macayla Allen's bases clearing double, which gave Reservoir a 3-0 lead.
The advantage would hold as the Gators claimed a big 4-1 victory against the only team to have beaten them this season.
"I think the girls definitely saw that win as a huge moment," Frisvold said. "Marriotts Ridge beat us pretty handily when we saw them the first time this season, so we wanted to see if we could rebound and find a way to get a win against an opponent of that caliber."
Reservoir will have to continue to get wins against tough opponents if it wants to accomplish what no other team has in its program's history.
"It's definitely our goal to win the Howard County title right now," Smith said. "Reservoir has never done it before, so that would make it very special. We have a tough road ahead though, so we need to keep pushing."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Julie Frisvold