Flower Mound softball coach Mark Larriba faced a dilemma. With a rescheduled district face off against Plano West looming on a Saturday night, he could either force all of his players to attend and miss their senior prom, or he could allow the seniors to skip the game in favor of the spring high school tradition. For Larriba, it wasn’t a dilemma at all.
Despite the fact that allowing all of his seniors to miss the Plano West game would be seen as abandoning the team’s chance at an undefeated district record, Larriba opted to allow his players to attend the prom. As reported by the Dallas Morning News, the coach first asked if Plano West could move the game earlier, but the school was unable to adjust because of conflicts with other extracurricular activities. It was Plano West’s senior night, so Larriba felt obligated to play the game when it had been scheduled by Plano West.
And so it was that 14 varsity members of the powerhouse Flower Mound squad missed the game in favor of the prom. Instead, the team was comprised largely of junior varsity call-ups, with all three pitchers earning their first varsity action in the 10-0 Plano West victory.
The loss eliminated a perfect district season for Flower Mound, which dropped to 25-5-1 and 15-1 in district with the setback. That clearly mattered little to Larriba, who felt that his team still could have competed against a strong Plano West squad.
“It’s about the kids. There’s more to life than winning,” Larriba told the Morning News. “They were so excited. They could be stress-free to go to their prom. And then the kids that we were bringing up, a couple of them looked like they were going to start crying they were so excited.
“I didn’t tank it. I really thought we could go compete. The biggest problem is we left so many people on base.”
While some purists might have been disappointed with Larriba’s decision, he had a strong advocate in the other dugout on Saturday night.
“We have to kind of honor all the traditions that come along with being a senior in high school. We do our best as coaches to let our girls experience all aspects and think outside of just softball,” Plano coach Molly Pipak said. “I don’t hold anything against Larriba for his choice. I think that was really nice of him to do that for his girls.”