That unity has carried Reed from a disappointing loss to a team trip to Las Vegas.
After dropping into the losers’ bracket, the Raiders battled their way back through six games and five teams to represent the North at state, led by the six seniors on the squad.
“Each of our seniors have been huge to our success,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said. “Everyone contributes in different aspects and our seniors have kind of led the way for that even though none of them were really contributors last year, so we needed those girls to step up and they’ve done a great job of that.
“It’s just one of those things where you start adding up all these intangibles and next thing you know you’ve got a pretty good team out there. If it wasn’t for every single one of them and what they contribute, we wouldn’t be where we’re at. They all just add important pieces.”
Wunder said it is the Raiders’ unity that has got them through highs and lows this season.
“We lost two players and we’ve had some injuries, so they always had to deal with some adversity,” he said. “We’ve moved more players around this season than we have in several years. Some girls had some familiarity with their new spots, but for those who weren’t, the others worked with them. They’re always there giving one another a crash course on anything they need help with. There are no egos. No one is worried about someone else taking their position. It’s truly a team atmosphere.”
Now Reed will take that teamwork to the softball diamond at UNLV, where the Raiders hope to have a different outcome than their state experience from a year ago when they fell one game shy of the state championship final.
“Last year at state, I think we didn’t win because people got down on each other. I think that’s the biggest difference this season,” Reed senior Kiara Shirley said. “We all just stick together. There’s no ‘I, I, I,’ in this. It’s always ‘We, we, we.’ We do it together. After that Galena game no one got down or blamed it on someone else.
“Honestly, I think it was good that we lost that Galena game. I think it just showed the character of our team. No one gave up on each other. We thought that we could still do it, but we knew that the only way we could do it was together.”
It is that combined effort that makes Reed feel comfortable on the field.
“It’s really nice because we all know that we have that backup,” Cummings said. “Jackie (Sertic) knows that she can trust her defense and we know that we can trust each other to come through in an at bat. Like in regionals when Mary and Mackenzie (Goins) came through for us.”
Another RHS senior, Laura Frost, echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a good feeling to know that you don’t have to always play every position,” Frost said. “We know we can rely on our teammates to help us out so we’re not out they’re trying to play the game by ourselves. Rather than one person trying to do it all, the team has it under control.
“This is probably the best year we’ve had with no drama. We have each other’s backs. We don’t just say it either. We do it. We have an understanding with each other that if everyone does what they need to do, then we will pick each other up and do whatever it takes to win.”
After losing five key seniors from last season’s squad, Reed knew it would need a team effort to get back to where it wanted. Individually, none of them could have accomplished what they did together. They needed each other to succeed.
“I don’t think you could define ‘team’ any other way. I think this team has been the perfect example of teamwork,” Shirley said. “We wouldn’t have won regionals if we weren’t the teammates that we are. There’s not one person who did it, and there’s not one person who didn’t do it. We all did it together.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. To go out like this is basically a dream come true, especially with this team.”
And although Reed is happy with the north crown, Cummings said the Raiders still want more.
“It was nice, but we’re not done.”