When Jennifer Luque coached Trivium Prep softball’s first team, it would have been hard to convince her that four seasons later the Crimson Knights would be one of the top teams in the conference.
Through 24 games in 2019, Trivium Prep was 20-4, winning each of its 2A conference games and losing only to schools double its student body in tournaments, with two winnable games left in the regular season. The Crimson Knights were ranked No. 2 in the 2A conference and were set to be one of the top playoff seeds come the tournament in March.
Luque, who has been with the team since its inception, is proud not only of the way Trivium has become a winning team, but the culture that it has grown through years of hard work and dedication.
“It’s great. Each year we build a little bit more and it’s been fun to see,” she said.
Senior Ashton Holt is one of Luque’s “Originals,” the few players who began as freshmen in the team’s first year and have stuck with the Crimson Knights throughout high school. They went from nearly not having enough players to form a team and having to recruit friends to now having several girls who play club softball year round and compete at a high level.
“It’s kind of crazy. I hoped we could become really good but I don’t think I saw this happening,” Holt said.
Though several girls have played many years for Trivium Prep, the school’s small pool of athletes necessitates that even at the varsity level, girls who have never played the sport are part of the team. A freshman who has never donned a jersey or glove before could find herself starting in the field or attempting at-bats in important games.
Part of Trivium’s success comes from new girls picking the sport up quickly.
Without a field at the school, Trivium has limited practice time at Falcon Park in Goodyear. Thus, Luque’s practices are intense, allowing little to no time for anything other than improvement.
Luque also pairs each of the new players with experienced upperclassmen at the beginning of the year, relying on her veterans to mentor the young girls on the game’s techniques and basic strategy.
“It is really fun helping the girls who have never played before, and it’s cool watching them get better,” junior Madison Hinojos said. “It’s good for the experienced players, too, because then we really focus on the fundamentals, and that helps us get better, too.”
With mere weeks left in the season, Trivium has its eyes set on playoff contention and hoisting its first softball state championship trophy. However, as a team still writing its initial history, the focus is still on building the program from the ground floor.
“It’s fun being the part of something at the start,” junior Corinne Vasiloff said.
“And you kind of feel like if we do well now, it sets up the culture to be good in the future, too.”