Plano softball sails into uncharted playoff waters

Uncharted success for Plano High softball, yes. But not unexpected.

Plano coach Cynthia Zea toughened the team’s non-district schedule with an eye to post-season.

The Wildcats (27-11-1) have responded with their longest playoff run in school history.

They’ve worked their way through four rounds and face Hebron (25-11) in a best-of-3 series for the Class 5A Region I title and a berth in the state final four.

All games will be played at Frisco Heritage High School. Game 1 is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Game 2 is 7:30 p.m. Friday and if a third game is needed, it would be at 2 p.m. Saturday.

In cold, windy conditions back on March 12, Hebron edged Plano, 1-0 in a non-district game with an unearned run being the difference.

“Honestly, this season hasn’t been a surprise to me at all,’’ said Zea, in her eighth season as head coach. “Our problem in the past has always been drawing a hot team in the second round of the playoffs.’’

Last year, Coppell took Plano out in the area round. The year before, it was Mesquite. In 2003, it was Garland. In all, six times Plano has gone to the second round without advancing.

But that changed this year when Plano defeated the No. 1 5A team in the state coaches’ poll, Coppell, 1-0, in a single-game elimination.

“Finally clearing that hurdle has relaxed us,’’ Zea said. “This team has been so calm.’’

Plano’s versatility makes it well-suited for just about any style it needs.

With Fresno State signee Vonnie Martin it has the power to slug it out and speed to play small ball with slap-hitting Arkansas signee Macy Burr.

Starting pitcher Abbi Frakes, a senior who has signed with Ouachita Baptist, has backup help at the ready with sophomore Kat Batey.

Plano’s starting lineup is composed of a freshman, a junior and four sophomores to go along with the only four seniors on the squad.

Three of the current sophomores played as freshmen on the varsity last year.

Zea said last year’s Plano East team provided inspiration when it finished fourth in District 8-5A, but made it to the state tournament.

“We’re not a team that depends on one big player,’’ Zea said. “It seems like it is somebody different every game.’’