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Despite a difficult start to the season, first-year head coach Karla Colton is steadfast in her hope for the future.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks' Hayden Rockwell takes a cut during the Braves' game against Valley Catholic Thursday, April 21, at Jesuit High School.Success can sometimes be one's worst enemy.

The Banks softball team is used to winning. Over the last eight years and seven seasons, the Braves have compiled a 151-28 record and tallied five league titles, and in 2016, they won the 4A state championship.

Banks reached the state quarterfinals in 2017. In 2014 and 2019, the Braves made it to the state semifinals. They were defeated by McLoughlin in the 2015 state final, before capturing the title in a rematch against McLoughlin a year later.

But past success means little going forward, and first-year head coach Karla Colton understands that as she works towards building the next generation of Braves greats from the ground up in 2022.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks junior Morgan Rockwell celebrates a hit during the Braves' game against Valley Catholic Thursday, April 21, at Jesuit High School."This year so far has been very challenging," Colton said. "As a team, we've faced many different obstacles, including injuries, schedule conflicts, coaching shortage and the weather. Going forward, I think we are in a good position now for growth, and I expect good things for this second half of the season."

After dropping a 6-5 extra-inning affair with Valley Catholic on Thursday, April 21, Banks fell to 2-7 overall and 0-4 in the Cowapa League.

But with just three seniors on the roster — along with a couple of close recent defeats — Colton understands that the team and season are a work in progress.

"This year's team is new, and we are still working on finding our identity as one solid team," the coach said. "But while this season has been rough so far, we have already seen a lot of growth."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks junior Alex Saunders winds to deliver a pitch during the Braves' game against Valley Catholic Thursday, April 21, at Jesuit High School.Colton said the Braves are led by seniors Kassandra Douglas and Hayden Rockwell, along with juniors Olivia Wyatt and Alex Saunders. She said that despite them being upperclassmen, they've developed a good attitude and worked hard towards helping young and developing players to the team.

"They've really stepped up to be supportive and encouraging teammates to our newer and less experienced players," the coach said.

Furthermore, she's been impressed with junior Madyson Bigsby and freshman Jordyn Maller. Bigsby is playing her first year of softball.

"She is always giving 100 percent," Colton said. "Her natural athleticism and willingness to accept and follow instruction has turned her into our best outfielder and a great player."

Colton also said that Maller's versatility has been an asset from the get-go and that the freshman's growth has been "exponential" over the course of the season.

The coach is excited to see both Bigsby and Maller get better in the years to come.

"I cannot wait to see how both of these athletes grow over the years," Colton said.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks junior Katie Raines takes a swing during the Braves' game against Valley Catholic Thursday, April 21, at Jesuit High School.Colton believes the strength of this year's team is its perseverance and willingness to work, while fundamentals and communication are the areas most in need of improvement.

She believes this season is about having fun and building towards what she hopes will be another stretch of successful Banks softball.

"Our team goal is to grow together and strengthen our team bond," Colton said. "We want to play the rest of the season as a cohesive unit with strong communication and positive attitudes."


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