As the 2011 softball season gets underway, Marcus appears to be in good shape once again for a spot in the playoffs, and coach Christy Tumilty said she is optimistic about her teams’ chances. The Marauders finished 24-12 last season and advanced three rounds in the playoffs, and Tumilty said she expects her team to have a serious challenge in district this season.
“Our district is extremely competitive this year,” Tumilty said. “Six of the eight of us made the playoffs last year. I expect our toughest competition to be Hebron, Plano, Flower Mound, Plano East, and Plano West. But then Allen and Lewisville are also always a challenge.
“So really, there will be no easy district games. I expect all 14 district games to be huge battles.”
Marcus was 7-3 in district last season, and Tumilty said, while they are lofty, she believes the objectives her team has set for itself this year are attainable.
“Our goals are to make the playoffs and have a great playoff run that takes us all the way to Austin,” Tumilty said.
The Marcus coach said she expects a number of players to have big seasons this year.
“We have six returning starters, 11 returning varsity players on the roster, and seven seniors who we are expecting to provide experience and leadership that will direct this team throughout the season,” Tumilty said.
The Marcus coach said some of those starters include Sr. Devon Wallace, 1B; Sr. Hailey Winter, 3B; Sr. Tanner Pipkin, C; Sr. Danielle Blocker, LF; Sr. Jennifer Beardsley, RF; Soph, Dani Warne, SS.
Tumilty said, while it will definitely be a hard row to hoe in 8-5A this season, there is a big advantage for Marcus as well.
“The upside to our strong district is that the teams that finish in the top four spots will definitely be prepared for playoffs,” Tumilty said. “Those four teams will have earned their playoff spot and will be ready for the playoff competition. So making it through district will be a big hurdle, keep everyone healthy, and hopefully our hard work throughout the season will sustain us for a long playoff run.”
Over at Flower Mound, the Jaguars tied for second in district last season, and coach Mark Larriba said his team is trying to overcome some hurdles itself.
“Right now, we are experiencing a little bit of growing pains,” Larriba said. “We return three starting players and one, Katie St. Pierre is injured. So we are playing young and inexperienced players. However, we feel we are getting better each day. That’s our team goal.”
Larriba said he expects Taylor Mosher-pitcher, Katie St. Pierre-OF and Brooke Holloway-SS to lead the way for the Jags this season.
To make the playoffs and have a good post-season run this year, Larriba said he feels it will take a few things.
“We must get better each time we take the field,” Larriba said. “We have some very talented young players, who will gain some valuable experience, and at the end of the season, we hope to be peaking.
“In addition, the sooner we get healthy and stay healthy, we could start to gel as a team and make some noise.”
For Guyer, a 34-5-2 record in 2010 and trip to the state semi-finals is not one the Wildcat faithful will soon forget.
Guyer won district 5-4A last season, and return last season’s district Newcomer of the Year, Megan Washam.
Washam finished last season with a .404 batting average and drove in 21 runs.
Caitlin Christopher is also back for the Wildcats, who led the team offensively with a .423 average and 47 RBI.
Argyle reached the regional quarterfinals last season before losing to regional finalist Celina, and have nucleus of strong players coming back in 2011.
Look for Emily Rodgers, Erin Leamon and Kate Walker to the lead the way for the Eagles this season.
For Liberty Christian coach Stephanie Ritter, a fourth place finish in district and 20-9 record last season has her optimistic about her team’s chances this year.
“For the 2011 softball season, Liberty Christian Softball is strong,” Ritter said. “We have an awesome defense and strong hitting. I am looking forward to a successful year. Seeing that we have five starting seniors, I know that our goals are to finish high in our district play and go to the state tournament.”
Players to watch for the Warriors this season include Savannah Ewing, Kasi Sallee, Caitlyn Spain, Kelsie Finch, and Anna Payne.
Ritter said she does believe that Liberty is capable of a good showing in the playoffs, but added that it will take a couple of things to do so.
“For us to have a good post-season and a playoff run, our team will need to continue with dedication, positive attitudes and confidence that they can win and beat anybody they play against,” Ritter said.