JOPLIN, Mo. — It was an idea that transpired from a conversation between Joplin High School head softball coach Manny Flores and the Eagles head baseball coach. It’s purpose is to track progress and see which player does their job the best.

And it’s all represented by a little, tiny rake.

“Instead of looking at how good your batting average is, or on base percentage, it’s looking at what you’re doing for your team to make it better,” sophomore infielder Isabella Yust said.

You don’t actually have to go yard to be recognized. It operates as a point system split between stealing bases, pitching complete games or even bunting.

When it comes to the actual meaning of the rake itself, it coincides with who raked the field the most because whoever covered the most ground is the one seen lifting up the rake after each game. Players voted on having the award symbolized by a rake instead of using a signed softball with names or patches on uniforms.

“I had it for like four times in a row,” freshman infielder Taryn Casey said. “And then it got taken away from me and I was like I’m getting that back.”

Just like Casey, the eight other freshmen on the team have held onto the rake the most this season. If anything, it exudes ambition. It reveals development of a young team and what lies ahead. Because just like the tradition, the freshmen aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“As a senior, this is like the best freshman class I think I’ve ever seen in my whole [high school career],” senior outfielder Tatum Stogsdill said. “I’m really proud of them. They work really hard for this, they deserve it.”