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Area softball teams swing for the fences

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As the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex continues to boast some of the strongest softball talent in the state, Southern Denton County is certainly doing its part to perpetuate that reputation.

Flower Mound, Marcus, Coram Deo Academy, Argyle Liberty Christian and Denton Guyer High Schools all made the post-season in 2009, and as softball season gets set to get underway, those programs look to pick up right where they left off.

Liberty Christian coach Bruce Gundlach said he is very optimistic about where his team is sitting as the season approaches.

“We are really excited about this year,” Gundlach said. “Not only should we be very competitive, but it is a great blend of personalities which will make it fun.”

Gundlach said he began things this year with a team-building activity that proved to be popular among the Liberty faithful.

“We started the season with our second ever Midnight Madness,” Gundlach said. “Last year, I had this idea about trying it with softball after hearing basketball teams doing it for years.  We started at 12:01 a.m. on the 18th [it was a holiday]. We practice for about an hour and a half.  The girls love it and most of the parents come out.”

Liberty Christian went 6-4 in TAPPS District 1-4A last year and finished in third place.

Gundlach said he believes that softball in the Southern Denton County area is so strong for a good reason.

“I think having so many club softball teams in this area allows them to play a lot outside of school which has made the girls very competitive,” Gundlach said.

Among Gundlach’s stronger players returning from last year are catcher Mallory Rossman, who was the defensive player of the year in district 1-4A, and outfielder Ashley Kowalewski, a first-team all district selection last season.

A huge pick up for the Lady Warriors is pitcher Alex Whitby, who comes to Liberty from Coram Deo Academy, where she helped lead the Lady Lions to two long successive post-season runs in 2008 and 2009.

Coram Deo will definitely miss Whitby on the mound, but even worse for the Lady Lions this season is that they will not field a team.

CDA Athletic Directory Donnie Brake said there was just not enough interest in the sport this year and the school did not have enough players to make a full squad.

For Marcus, things could not be looking much better heading into the season, as the Lady Marauders return 10 players from a squad that won a district championship and advanced to the regional finals last season.

“We would like to pick up where we left off last year,” coach Christy Tumilty said. “We were playing well as a team – solid defense and strong offense.”

Devon Wallace, KelVon Greer, Heather Foust [last season’s Co-MVP from district 6-5A], Danielle Blocker, Courtney Flanary, Hailey Winter and Kacie Hildreth are among Marcus’ stronger returning players this season, and Tumilty agreed with Gundlach about why Southern Denton County schools are able to field such strong programs.

“Our kids are basically playing year round, and most of them are competing at a high level,” Tumilty said.

Flower Mound High School was probably the team most affected by graduation, as it lost five all-district selections from last year’s team, including the district 6-5A Co-Most Valuable Player in Short Stop Taylor Hoagland.

Hoagland signed to play collegiately at the University of Texas.

The Lady Jags should be led by third baseman Jordan Jennings, who was an all-district selection for Flower Mound last season.

Over at Guyer High School, a 29-10 finish in 2009 has coach Keith Medford very optimistic about his teams’ chances this season.

“Things are shaping up nicely so far,” Medford said. “Everyone has come in to the start of the season healthy and eager to compete.”

Medford said he believes that participating in club softball does help a lot of local teams, saying “there are a number of high level select teams in this area for the girls to play on in the summer.”

Some of Guyers’ stronger returning players this season are pitcher Kylee Crosek, first baseman Lindsay Vochoska, outfielder Lindsay Mayes, and utility player Jackie Ramirez.

After finishing up last season with a 13-1 district record, Medford said the objectives for this season are to “win the district and make a long run in the playoffs.”

Over at Argyle, the Lady Eagles softball team finished 5-5 in 9-3A competition last season.

With all-district pitcher Emily Rogers, and last year’s district Freshman of the Year in first baseman Kate Walker returning for the Lady Eagles, Argyle could rival for a post-season spot this year.

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