Coming Together: Deerfield and Highland Park Softball Teams Merge


Senior Isabella Carpenter hitting a home run last season.

Lilly Hahn, Staff Writer

In an email sent in mid-October, parents and students were informed that the DHS and HPHS softball programs would be merged into a single team for the upcoming softball season. Later in the month, over the course of continuous board meetings, the Central Suburban League, District 113, and IHSA all approved this move.  The decision left the softball team members and families at a loss for what their team would look like the following year. 

For the past three years, DHS and HPHS have only had varsity level teams. As a result, girls in both programs—no matter their age or playing history—were required to join a team that, competitively, could not keep up. Last year, the DHS team only had one senior, and finished the season with a 5-14 record. 

Faced with the imminent merge, the softball players had mixed feelings about what the future will hold. 

It has been ingrained in my brain forever that HP and DHS are rivals,” said Isabella Carpenter, a senior on the DHS softball team. “So naturally, teaming up with them is something I was initially fundamentally against.” 

However, Madison Florzak, a junior on the DHS softball team, offered a different perspective.

“My first initial thoughts about the announcement of a HPHS and DHS softball team merge was optimistic. In the previous years, we’ve had problems with numbers. I think having more people to contribute will only build up our program and will start new blossoming friendships,” she said.

Though different thoughts and opinions are held among the team, it is clear that the decision came as a shock—even with the knowledge of the low numbers and morale.

The issue with numbers was a big problem during last year’s season.  It is not exactly clear what causes it. When Florzak was asked what would cause a member not to join the team, she said the ability to grow as a player was key.

“Something that would cause a DHS varsity softball player to not rejoin the team this year is not getting the correct attention that they need to become a better player and to keep their mental self in check,” she said.“Providing the team with loving coaches who listen, attend and provide help to their players not only builds up a team but each of their individual players also.” 

 This year, after counting all the players returning and the freshmen with interest, there are about 24 people interested in playing on the team at Deerfield. Highland Park also had higher numbers heading into the season, around 20. This information only came to light after the decision to merge was finalized and made. With a total of 44 players interested, the program’s roster is much larger than what could fit on two teams. This means that the merge might cause some players to be cut.

Athletic Director Nathan Flannery assured worried parents and players that there is the possibility of not all players turning up. But for now, there is no telling what will happen to the teams if all 44 will show up.. 

“Our plan is to utilize the facilities at both schools as well as coaches from both schools.  It is important to us that both schools are represented.  In order to do that we plan to hold half of our games and practices at Deerfield and half at Highland Park, ” he said.

He added  that the team would be called the Giant Warriors, and they would wear black uniforms. Both teams are undergoing many changes that will not only impact  their structure, but also their ability as players as they play at their correct, more competitive level. 

As the team approaches the next season, much is still unknown: how many players will show up, if it will be a cut team, and even where they will play. Nobody knows for sure how this will run and how well it will turn out, but more information will be clear as spring comes upon the team. We can only hope for the teams to grow better together.