- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

PLAINS, Texas (AP) - Alyx Henderson moved to Plains her freshman year when her father, Randy, became the girls basketball coach at little Plains High School. She was a standout basketball player and had played softball since she was 4. Once she arrived at the Class 1A school, though, Henderson discovered there was no softball team at the school of about 120 students, and she worried her skills would weaken.

That’s when her mother gave her an idea.

“I just asked if I could practice (with the baseball team),” Henderson told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (http://bit.ly/1j3udEE). “Then they asked me if I wanted to play. It just kind of happened.”

Henderson said the boys were reluctant at first about her playing baseball, but after a while they got used to it. Over the last three years, she became just one of four girls playing on the Cowboys baseball team.

“They just … it’s hard to explain,” Henderson said. “They just become friends, closer than you would normally think.”

Since Henderson joined the baseball team three years ago, the number of girls has doubled each year; from one to two last year and to four this year.

Now, the girls make up a quarter of the roster and a third of the starting lineup for the Cowboys.

“They weren’t handed those starting positions to keep people off anybody’s back,” athletic director Tom Harvey said. “They’re legitimately the best people that play those positions.”

Plains doesn’t hold tryouts for or cut players from its teams.

“If you show interest, make practices, keep your grades up and stay out of trouble, anyone can be a part of our UIL activities,” Superintendent Mike Michaleson said in an email to the Avalanche-Journal. “It is a part of what makes the small-school experience so great.”

The numbers are not there.

“People would text me or see me at the grocery store or around town and ask me when we were going to get softball and things like that,” said Harvey, who has been the athletic director at Plains for eight years.

But, the answer may be never.

With the influx of girls showing interest in baseball, the Plains High School principal put out a survey in the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 school years to see how extensive the interest ran in beginning softball.

Fewer than 10 girls showed even the slightest interest in creating a Cowgirls softball team.

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