SHALLOWATER, Texas — Emma Davis has been a serious softball player since she was eight years old. Now a sophomore pitcher for the Shallowater High School Mustangs, she was quick to draw the attention of college recruiters.
But she says the calls have now stopped after two knee injuries ended her season two years in row. She says a neglect of their home field has caused a dangerous environment in which to play, and one that is responsible for both of her injuries.
“There was a hole in the outfield. I twisted my knee and dislocated it for the third time, so then I had to go get surgery,” Davis said of her first injury last year. She repeated a similar incident on her other knee just last week, after she stepped into another erroneous hole during a pitch. “There was a hole in the mound where it wasn’t being taken care of, so my knee popped out again… I just want my career to go better than it has been going. I just want to play one full season and not get hurt”
Parents and players of the Shallowater softball community are now calling for the school district to improve their field and offer the team more support. They believe the neglectful maintenance has dealt them an uneven playing field in more ways than one.
“Look at that field over there and the rest of the facilities, then look at our softball field,” Emma’s father Larry Davis said, pointing to the boy’s baseball field across the street. “I guess it’s just a matter of priority, where their money goes.”
Shallowater ISD said in a statement to KAMC News that there has been one injury out of nine games the girls’ field has hosted this season.
“Shallowater ISD’s top priority is the safety of our students. We are committed to maintaining high quality facilities in every arena,” the district said. “In 9 games and numerous practices on the softball field this season, we have had only one reported injury. The field is maintained daily prior to any practices or games.”
Mr. Davis is now asking the district to pay his daughters medical bills and commit to more support for the team.
“The last few years this school hasn’t seem to have put the softball program at the same level as all the other sports,” he said. “I got stuck with the bills last year and I don’t want to get stuck with the bills this year… last year, it was ‘we’ve done all we’re obligated to do.’ I’ve been talking more vocal about it this year, and maybe they’ll step up and pay for it.”
Meanwhile, the district is preparing to take a $50 million bond proposal to voters in May. The package will dedicate $48.5 million to building improvements and land acquisition, and $1.5 million to renovate the football and track facilities. Some in the softball community believe they should be included in that investment.
“We haven’t really had any donations to this field. It’s just very ‘double standard’ here,” Emma said. “Football is getting a new turf field this summer, and I don’t know if any changes are going to be made to the softball field… I would just like softball to get more recognized at this school so we could have better opportunities.”
Until then, Emma will continue to support her team at every game, wearing a knee brace over her uniform. Her father will continue to support the team alongside her, while acknowledging the issues he sees in the softball community at large.
“This is like a sisterhood and so it’s important for me to be here for them even though I’m hurt and don’t get to play,” she said. “I hope for this team that we progress in the future and we actually have a good season… just pay attention to us.”
“This is a sport too. it’s just as important to these girls as it is the basketball girls or the baseball boys or anybody else… you could say that anywhere in the state of Texas, probably. Girls sports don’t get the recognition of the other sports. It’s no different here. I’d just say it’s probably a little worse here.”
KAMC News contacted the Shallowater softball coach and the athletics director for this story. Our coverage will be updated if we receive a response.