By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Christa Williams-Yates is a softball legend at the University of Texas. When one walks into the UT Red and Charline McCombs Field, there is a full-size picture of the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist who, not only made a name in the college softball ranks, but also made her mark on the world-wide stage.
Williams-Yates helped lead the U.S. softball team to gold medals in 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney.
The accomplishments by the second-year Friendswood coach is astounding and sets an example for her young players to dream big in high school and the next level. It is obvious her past accomplishments have had a positive influence on her Lady Mustangs this past season as she led her young team to their first playoff appearance since moving up to Class 6A.
Not only did the Lady ‘Stangs make the post-season, but they won their first playoff series against the Brazoswood Lady Buccaneers who have won a couple of state titles and are one of the most successful teams in state softball circles.
Brazoswood entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of District 23-6A while Friendswood was a No. 3 seed out of District 24-6A.
As the post-season awards were passed out from the District 24-6A coaches, they gave the “Coach of the Year” nod to Alvin head coach David McCorkle whose team won the league crown.
Unfortunately, sometimes the league coaches don’t see the entire picture as to who might be the more deserving and whose team overcame the greatest odds at the end of the season.
Not to take anything away from McCorkle, but his No. 1 seed team was knocked out of the playoffs by No. 4 seed and his former team, the Dawson Lady Eagles, in a two-game sweep.
If the 24-6A coaches had really looked at the overall picture, they would have seen how Friendswood overcame an early season 2-4 start in district before reeling off six straight victories.
After losses to Dickinson, Clear Falls, Clear Creek, and Clear Springs with wins over Clear Brook sandwiched in the middle, Friendswood had to face eventual district champion Alvin up next on their schedule.
“After the Springs game, we sat down and had a big meeting, and they turned it around and beat Alvin 2-1. And they just took off after that.” Williams-Yates said. “It was a total team effort. They played inspired, instead of playing intimidated.”
Friendswood avenged their first round losses to Dickinson, Falls, Creek, and Springs while moving up the district ladder to earn their first playoff spot with a 9-5 league mark.
When it was all said and done with the season concluded, Williams-Yates was recognized by the writers who covered this incredible turnaround as the “Coach of the Year” for Galveston County.
“We were dead and buried,” Williams-Yates said, “We had no reason to make the playoffs, but we did. I’ve never seen or been a part of anything like this. It was a special season.”
Williams-Yates has never hesitated in giving credit is due and that included her seniors and top-notch crew of assistant coaches — which included former head coach Kevin Parr and football defensive coordinator Jamie Crocker.
Parr was sidelined for a time with a medical issue and Crocker had previously coached the sport.
After sweeping softball powerhouse Brazoswood in the opening round, Friendswood fell to another elite program and one that went on to capture the 6A-Region III championship in the Deer Park Lady Deer.
Deer Park ultimately fell to defending state champion Keller in the state semifinals 5-2. Keller defeated Austin Bowie 5-1 to claim back-to-back state titles.
There is no question that Friendswood softball is in good hands and the future is bright with Christa Williams-Yates at the helm.