Now weeks after the Vernon Lady Lion’s miracle season has ended, District Co-Pitcher of the Year Jade Guzman reflects on her team’s unprecedented trip to the state tournament, “It didn’t really hit me until we were at the University of Texas watching the team before us play, and I saw how many people were there and I was just like, wow. I wasn’t nervous, but I was just like wow I can’t believe we’re here. Obviously, every athlete wants to make it to state, and I never thought I’d be able to go to Austin to play for my high school.”

She continues, “It was definitely hard losing. I think it’s harder to lose at state than to not go to state at all. But that was the closest I’ve been with a team, and I think it was really cool to watch us grow over the season, and it’s definitely something I’ll never forget.”

The incoming senior pitcher finished her junior season 19-5 with 186 strike outs in 160 innings pitched. And she wasted no time working on getting better.

“Every weekend I play, I go to Dallas or Oklahoma or Austin, somewhere to play, and I come to pitching and hitting practice every week.”

You can find her hitting or throwing most days, often at D-BAT in Wichita Falls. Her pitching coach since the age of nine, Kasi Carol can’t remember the last time she took two weeks off. Carol also says, “She understands the importance of spin and movement and changing speeds. If she keeps working on her conditioning and weightlifting, the sky is the limit for her. She is a true and pure pitcher. Super proud of the player she is.”

Jade’s working on various specific things this summer, “I feel like I have a lot of control, but I think I could work the batters better sometimes. Sometimes when I don’t start up in the count, it’s hard for me to be able to work the batters…I’m trying to become a better hitter, I think I hit good really this season, but I think my bat could improve a lot to help my team and also obviously my pitching could improve.”

The hitting and the pitching work – all an effort to be better for her current and future teammates. And maybe helping the next group of Vernon Lady Lions make trip number two to Austin.