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Evarts, Franks, Quider own 16 years combined varsity experience; looking to catapult team to big season
By David Yarger
16 combined years.
That is how much varsity softball experience the trio of Maddie Evarts, Mackenzie Franks and Mackenzie Quider possess on the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons softball team.
The experience of playing for the N-W program has paid dividends for the three, as the senior captains look to lead the Falcons to big spring season.
Last season, the Falcons reached the Section VI Class AA championship game, before losing to Lancaster.
This year, the trio said they’re hoping to build off of last year’s success and compile another good season in hopes of possibly clinching the team’s first Section VI title since 2011.
As juniors, Quider, a pitcher, third baseman and No. 4 hitter, was a First Team All-Niagara Frontier League and All-Western New York honoree. Additionally, the center fielder Evarts notched First Team All-NFL, while the shortstop and No. 3 hitter Franks was selected Second Team All-NFL.
Of the three, Falcons coach Jim Proefrock said recently they are an important aspect of the team.
“They’re instrumental in this whole team. They’re the leaders,” Proefrock said. “Between the three of them, there’s 16 years varsity experience. Obviously, you don’t see that often.”
Proefrock was correct, as 16 years experience is a rare occurrence in high school sports. Evarts and Franks first steps on varsity were in seventh grade, while Quider’s came her freshman season. The three admitted that being the “young one” on the team back in the day was certainly daunting.
Franks said, “The other day I was talking to Mr. P about how terrified I was every time I’d step on the field, and he told me that he never even had a thought that I was so scared. Being a senior now, I have so much more confidence and it’s a lot easier to play that way.”
The captains agreed that all the years of experience have played a key factor in their progression and into the final season.
“I think because of the experience of all of us together, we gel together. We’re just the same person basically,” Quider said. “We pick each other up when we’re down. We’re just sisters; we really are like triplets.”
Evarts added, “I feel like it’s more than a sport. It’s fun and I enjoy being here with them. It is a family.”
Franks said, “Like Mack said, we just trust each other. If she’s on the mound or at third, I trust her to do to her job; same with Maddie in the outfield. We just have each others backs.”
The “sisterhood” that the trio has developed is another reason for the team’s success. The chemistry has made the team a close-knit bunch.
The team’s resiliency has shown to start this season, as the Falcons were in a back and forth battle with Niagara Falls to start the year, before putting the pedal to metal and winning 21-10.
Additionally, versus Lewiston-Porter, the girls found themselves down 2-0 early. N-W eventually walked away victorious, 5-4, in nine innings, as a squeeze bunt by Franks scored a sprinting Evarts from third base.
“We’re just a family and we pick each other up,” Quider said.
Evarts added, “No matter what the circumstances are, we always know it’ll be good at the end.”
Franks added that assistant coach Melanie Proefrock stresses to the team that they need to “trust each other like family” and good things will come from it.
Year in and year out, the Falcons present a stellar product on the diamond. Being part of a team with high expectations every season could add some pressure to some players, but the three said they enjoy knowing they’ll get each team’s best efforts.
“I feel like teams thinking we’re good just makes us wanna do better,” Evarts said.
Franks added, “We want the best from every team. We want to play top competition, so it just makes us better.”
Quider remarked, “There’s no added stress. Just do what you got to do when you step on the field.”
Additionally, the trio said as much as they want to win as much as possible, the big focus is always keeping their heads up, trust each other and picking each other up.
The three said they love representing the black and red each game and with a laugh, the three said the best part of being a Falcon is “the Proefrocks.”
The Falcons do have young talent coming up the ranks and the three captains said, while the task of being on varsity might be daunting, just go out and play with all the confidence in the world.
“Act like you own it,” Quider said. “You’re here for a reason. They chose you for a reason.”
Evarts, Franks, Quider and the rest of the Falcons are off to a hot start with a 4-0 record. N-W’s game versus Grand Island on Monday was postponed due to weather. On Wednesday, the team will take a flight and test its talents down in Florida.