Normal West might have the most fun playing softball of any team in the area.
The Wildcats always appear to be smiling and having a good time, no matter the score of the game. But it wasn’t always that way.
“Early on we kept a lot (of players) on our varsity roster, 21 players, now 22 for postseason. It’s the biggest I’ve ever had,” said Normal West head coach April Schermann. “But the first few games we were kinda quiet. I said, ‘with that many people we can’t be quiet.'”
Now the Wildcats are anything but quiet. Constantly making noise with their bats and in their dugout with their chants to support their teammates.
“I created a new leadership role called the juice captains,” Schermann said. “They are responsible for bringing the juice and being weird.”
Being the juice means being loud and energetic. Being weird includes getting players to wear hats and masks in the dugout to keep things loose during games.
“We’ve got a dinosaur, a shark, a poop emoji, a horse, a duck, pizza hat, telephone to call up the (home runs),” said junior Mackenzie Funk, one of four “juice captains” on the team. “We have a lot.”
The strategy appears to be working. West finished the Big 12 season with an undefeated record and will play for a class 3A regional title Saturday.
“It’s our theme, be weird, have fun,” said senior shortstop Jaxynn Dyson. “We play better when we are loose and having fun. So we have weird stuff in the dugout.”
Normal West plays Moline for the Pekin regional title. The Wildcats are hoping to be loud and proud from the first pitch at 11 a.m.
“That is absolutely the personality of this team. They are weird and fun,” Schermann said. “They like to have a good time and cheer and sing, make up songs. That’s when we play the best, when we are having fun.”