Kim Oualline waited years for softball to become an official school sport.

An experienced and talented senior who has played softball since the second grade, Oualline was regarded as a star player, listed among area players to watch in the Dallas Morning News. But new varsity sports often experience growing pains, and Oualline and coach Kim Kromdyke have had their share.

RISD didn’t adopt softball until after the beginning of the school year. The girls didn’t have athletic period during the fall semester and began workouts 10 days before their first game. Their bats didn’t arrive until the day of the first game, and their uniforms were still on order.

Many of the games were rained out, but when the Lake Highlands girls did play, they lost. Oualline, who prefers to play first base or outfield, was pressed into service as a catcher during a cold weekend tournament in Denton and hurt her shoulder throwing to second base.

Despite it all, she remains optimistic.

“I really think we’re going to do OK in district,” Oualline says. “All of the (RISD) teams are starting out even. We just need to play some games and get some players from soccer and get together.”

Oualline has been an active student at Lake Highlands. She’s in the National Honor Society, Exchange Club and Students Against Drunk Driving.

But her main focus has been athletics. She was a point guard on the varsity basketball team until midway through her senior season. Her softball experience includes one year of fast-pitch in a Garland league when she was in the ninth grade.

“I had been playing softball for so long, and basketball year-round since fourth grade,” Oualline says. “I like the competition and the games, and my dad pushed me to be good at it.”

Oualline excelled at softball from the first game, Kromdyke said. After the first few games, she was batting .600. However, the pleasure of playing well was diluted by the fact that all of those games were losses.

“I got mad once,” Oualline says. “We were playing against a girl who was throwing 70 miles per hour, and only a couple of us could hit her. Losing is hard, but I feel that we’ll start winning soon.”

“Kim is an outstanding player,” Kromdyke says. “She can play any position. It’s just that we are a very young team.”

Wrestler Third in State

As a junior, Greg Donahoe decided to get serious about wrestling. He put in a year of hard work and proved himself by placing third in the recent state meet at Abilene, the top individual achievement by coach Pete Grieder’s region championship wrestling team.

Donahoe, a 5-10 senior who wrestles in the 180-pound class, lost only one match in the state meet, a semifinal. He came back to win a consolation bracket match and the third-place bout.

Grieder’s “Gorilla” squad won the Region 3 championship by a wide margin on its home floor, compiling 237 points to 147 for runner-up Plano. It was the second region crown for the Wildcats, who also won in 1991.

Other LHHS wrestlers who won region championships in their respective divisions, thus qualifying for the state tournament, were Chung Choi, Claude Medlock, Austin Kempson, Alex Johnson, Gianni Shiffer, Chris Johnson and Juanapha Gibson.

Boys Soccer Earns Playoffs

The boys soccer team had to forfeit three games midway through the district race because of what coach Frank Gidwani says was “a misinterpretation of the eligibility rules.” The misinterpretation made a transfer student and team member from Mexico ineligible.

“It was frustrating,” Gearing says. “We played so well. But we’ve answered. We haven’t lost a game since that happened.”

Despite the setback, the team still made the playoffs. Going into the season finale against Plano, the Wildcats were officially 5-4 in district (7-1 on the field, but 0-3 in legalities).

Wildcats soccer player Alan Gearing was sought by San Diego State and USC, but finally decided on SMU. His all-around play is likely to earn him several post-season honors.

Talk About Bad Breaks

The LHHS girls soccer had lost only two games this season going into their finale against Plano, but those two losses were enough to spoil their playoff chances.

First-year head coach Alicia Heard’s team tied Plano and defeated and tied Plano East. Starting the final week of the season, the Wildcats had a 10-1-4 record (5-1-2 in district play) and were rated No. 1 in the area by the Dallas Morning News poll. Despite this, they didn’t make the playoffs.

“But it was a great season,” Heard says. “The girls became a phenomenal team and have been great to coach.”

Senior Rachel Wilkinson scored 15 goals, and Heard cited Laura McClendon, Caren Vaughan and Liz Preskitt for outstanding defensive play.