The Woodlands Christian Academy reached new heights in 2019, again.
After reaching the state tournament for the first time in 2018, the Warriors got to the state title game last spring. A 10-2 loss to Waco Reicher left a sour taste in TWCA’s mouth and the Warriors are aiming to use the experience to help them in 2020.
“To come up short with errors (in the state title game), it weighed heavily on us this offseason,” coach Richard Perez said in a recent phone interview. “It was a new setting for us in the state final and having that underneath our belt now is going to help us. Whether the experience was what we wanted or not, it’s an experience we can learn from and grow from.”
Perez, who has led TWCA to the postseason each year since arriving in 2016, says his players were eager to turn the page after they fell to Reicher last spring.
“It was pretty quick, right after,” he recalled. “They wanted to get back at it and find out what they needed to work on and focus on in the offseason. They’re ready to step up and lead this team to the finish line.”
The good news for the Warriors is they bring back eight starters in 2020. The bad news is Faith Hanshaw graduated. Hanshaw, who was a first team All-County player and now plays at Carleton College in Minnesota, was the pitcher at the center of TWCA’s rise.
“Faith was the backbone of the team, having her here when I got there,” Perez said. “Who she was as a leader on the field and off the field is just something that anchored this team and held us together. To replace her is not something I think we can ever do. It’s just trying to have others fill in those shoes as best as they can. Learning from Faith was a great opportunity for these players.”
In the circle, junior McKenna Meadors and freshman Katie Wise will fill the spot once occupied by Hanshaw.
In the field, Mariska Cohelo, Adele Veldekens, Ashley Darilek and Gracie Graham are a few of the returners to the varsity lineup.
“It’s nice to have those returners,” Perez said. “That experience of being in that championship game is an experience that can overwhelm you. Having that experience is going to be a huge advantage for us and those girls.”
After posting a 17-8 record, winning District 6-3A and advancing to the final game of the season, the Warriors learned a lot in 2019. The goal in 2020 is to replicate their success, but end the season in a different way.
“All of our expectations and goals are for us to come together as that team we know we can be and to, of course, make it to the state final and finish it this year,” Perez said. “I think we have the team and talent, we’ve just got to play our game.”