While Holliday senior Evelyn Perkins leads, the Lady Eagles softball team follows. The all-state center fielder is a key catalyst in getting Holliday started.
As Billy Arbogast said, “When she gets on base, bad things happen for the other team.”
However, things weren’t always easy for Perkins on the softball field. Despite the simplicity of his game, he relies on years and years of work in the cage and on the field to perfect his craft.
She started playing T-Ball at age four as a right-handed hitter. After five or six years of limited success, her hitting coach turned her over to the other side of the plate to become a slap hitter.
“I started getting good at it and getting more confident in myself,” she said. “Softball started clicking for me at the end of elementary school. I started liking it and started getting good at it.
Around the same time the game started to come together for her, Evelyn and her dad Brian set a goal for her to make the varsity team as a freshman.
“That was the perspective I had from fifth grade to my freshman year. I teamed up with Coach Nichols. Unfortunately, we weren’t the best, but it felt good to achieve this long-held goal.
After her first season, Arbogast became the head coach of the Lady Eagles. Holliday was set to have a breakout season in 2020. The Lady Eagles finally started to hit their stride around this time in March before the world came to a halt due to the pandemic.
“We had a really good high point just before Covid. We didn’t start very well, but we were up when it hit and it was really devastating,” Perkins said.
As a sophomore, Perkins was named captain by Arbogast.
“I wanted to prepare her for what I saw in her future,” said the Lady Eagles skipper. “She does it both on and off the pitch. She works behind the scenes, not only on the softball field, but also in the classroom and with other people. She not only tries to be a good softball player, but also a good person. She’s the first sophomore captain I’ve ever had.
“Being named captain gave me a lot of comfort because I’ve always had natural leadership abilities,” added Perkins. “It was reassuring to get this and use these abilities that God gave me.”
Her junior year took her completely by surprise with the historic success the Lady Eagles found.
“Last year, I didn’t think we were going to be great,” she said. “I thought losing Marshal (Gillit) was going to be a big loss. We didn’t lose a game and it was a round for sure. We went to the state and it was really awesome.
The individual success she found in her freshman year was good enough to earn all-state honors. The speed threat atop the Lady Eagles roster hit .554 with 57 runs and 19 RBIs. Once on base, she was virtually a lock to find herself third after two pitches, stealing 46 sacks and only getting caught twice, with a stolen on-base percentage of .958.
This season, Perkins and the Lady Eagles are taking nothing for granted after running into the semi-finals last year.
“We take things game by game. Knowing that while being part of something so big and amazing is awesome, it’s also a lot of pressure. I am still human; my teammates are always human and we are always allowed to make mistakes. It will happen. We will also succeed. It’s like that. We rely on the practice we have put in place and the cohesion of our team is going to be a big part of that. I don’t want to say anything yet about the state or how far we’re going to go. I just take game by game and field by field. It’s all about the little things this year. We have to accomplish the small goals to move on to bigger goals like getting to the state.
Once her playing career is over, Perkins plans to attend Oklahoma State to major in elementary education. She had the opportunity to play in college but decided to focus on her studies and start afresh at Stillwater.
“I’m really excited to graduate, but at the same time I’m really scared of giving up. It’s the backbone of all my sports. Right now I’m trying to have fun and live every moment for me and my other teammates because if I focus too much on it I won’t be performing. I felt it coming for a while so I had time to mentally prepare myself. I know I’m going to be sad but I’m ready to move on too I can’t wait to make new friends and be in a new place I’ve been to Holliday all my life I’m ready to see something new and a new leaving and all that comes with going to college.
Through the first 15 games of his senior campaign, Perkins is hitting a .460 clip with 23 hits, 12 steals and an impressive 26 runs scored.
As Arbogast eloquently put it, “The odds are really high that when Evelyn gets on that Holliday scores a run.”