Travis Hejl wants to change the culture of the Vandegrift softball program.
After beginning his coaching career with a very successful team in Fredericksburg, the Cedar Park alumnus returns to central Texas in charge of the Lady Vipers, which picked up their first win of the district season Monday night, beating Vista Ridge 5-2.
“My coaches, the parents and the community, they’re all bought in,” Hejl said. “We need to teach the girls how to have success and maintain success. All the things that come with a successful program, we’re having to teach right now. The wins will come when that is changed.”
Sydney Wunsch pitched a complete game on Monday, allowing two runs on eight hits with three strikeouts.
Courtney Pickus went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, Zoe Kim was 1-for-3 with two runs driven in and Jordan Lamb, who Hejl said has had less than 10 plate appearances this season, finished with a pair of RBIs.
Amongst the largely successful athletic history at Vandegrift, softball has been an outlier having never made the playoffs. The win against Vista Ridge matches Vandegrift’s combined win total from the last two district schedules.
Having graduated from and worked at other successful high school athletic programs, Hejl knows what the pressure feels like and thinks the Lady Vipers are more than capable of reaching that pinnacle.
“The talent is here,” Hejl said. “The coaches and I doing everything we can to develop that and show these girls that it’s ok to succeed.”
Vandegrift returns to the field with a pair of road games after spring break at Cedar Ridge on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and at Hays on Friday night. The Lady Vipers then host Lake Travis on Mar. 27 at 7 p.m.
Hejl said from his perspective, the team was sucked into the snowball effect, where something would happen in the first or second inning and then the team would lose a little hope for the rest of the game.
Those days are over.
The challenge this year is having success early, maintaining it, but more importantly, if something happens, how to come back form that,” Hejl said. “I want them to compete to the point where losing isn’t acceptable. Getting run-ruled is out of the question and not give up if things go wrong.”