New Softball Coach Aims to Build on Recent Success
When Michael Pullen graduated from Highland Park High School, the school’s struggling softball program was still in its infancy.
Two decades later, as Pullen takes over as head coach, the Lady Scots are coming off a district title and back-to-back playoff appearances.
Pullen, an assistant coach for the past two seasons, is taking over for Meredith Townsend, who left HP for a job in Sulphur Springs. And he hopes to continue that recent run of success while building for the future.
“There’s something to be said about consistency,” Pullen said. “We’re trying to remain true to a lot of the things that she did, because it’s working.”
Pullen’s coaching background is primarily in baseball, but there’s plenty of softball experience in his family. His wife, Rachel, played softball at HP during the late 1990s.
Last season, HP had its best season in program history, winning a District 10-6A title before being eliminated by Rockwall in the area round of the playoffs.
However, that team was loaded with seniors, and just two starters return this spring — slugging shortstop Amanda Reenan and first baseman Sidney Thompson. The Lady Scots must find a new pitcher to replace Katie Bell, who patrolled the circle for the past four years.
“It’s a brand new crop out there,” Pullen said. “We’ve got a really good group of young kids who have been playing for a long time.”
Thanks to recent efforts to improve depth at the subvarsity and middle-school levels, participation numbers throughout the program remain high. Yet the varsity roster will include at least five freshmen and just one senior.
Among the top newcomers will be freshmen Ava Sims and Dawson Dabbousi, along with junior Sadie Banks, a transfer from McKinney Christian.
Pullen knows that scrimmages and early-season tournament play will be critical for gaining experience, shaping the lineup, and developing chemistry prior to the start of the rigid District 15-5A schedule on March 7 against Lovejoy.
Eventually, he hopes that this year’s freshman class can replicate the accomplishments of last year’s seniors — and that’s a realistic goal.
“We have freshmen in the right spots. That’s what you want,” Pullen said. “We have quite a few that can help us.”