Lorena looks to send longtime coach out on top
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Lorena softball team is hoping its longtime head coach’s final year will end with the program’s first state title.
Steve Dolezel has been a coach at Lorena for 31 years - spending the last twelve as the head softball coach.
Dolezel said he started considering retirement last Summer, but decided to come back for one more season with his senior class.
Dolezel remembers, “I talked with my wife and I said, ‘I think this is going to be it’, but we have a good nucleus of seniors, so I said I would come back for them.”
In return, the girls decided they would make this year his most special one yet.
Pitcher Kate Houser says, “I told him at the very beginning of the year, I was like, ‘Coach Dolezel, we are going to win you a state title. He was like, ‘okay Houser, everyone says that’.”
It was a little far-fetched because Lorena has never even made the state tournament. But the extra motivation of sending their coach out on top has helped pushed the Lady Leopards to the Regional Finals.
Senior Alexis Nava explains, “It would mean so much for me. Not only because it is my senior year, but for him. I think that it was most of us are looking forward to - to try to do our best and win it all for him.”
Coach Dolezel adds, “It would be awesome for us as a program. It would be awesome for me as a coach to be able to get one, because, I feel like we have been good enough to win one.”
The girls feel like Dolezel deserves their best, because he helped them become their best.
“He has grown me as a player. He has grown my confidence. He fights for me no matter what. If I don’t get a call from the umpire he comes out there and he will fight for me no matter what,” says Houser.
Dolezel says his seniors keep the rest of the team loose and having fun - but I am not sure he gives himself enough credit for how much his players love the game.
Nava smiles, “He is a pretty fun coach. He ikes to be hard on us here and there, but he also likes to make jokes. It is pretty fun to be around him.”
Houser laughs, “He is exciting. Every single pitch, ‘put some juice on it, Houser!’”
Dolezel says he’s having a blast this year, but he doesn’t intend to pull a Tom Brady and change his mind about retiring.
“I have committed so it’s like, I am ready to go. I am going to enjoy what we are doing right now for as far as we can go.”
Lorena plays Franklin in a best-of-three series this week at Baylor’s Getterman Stadium.
The winner earns a spot in the state tournament in Austin.
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