Monday, December 11, 2023

Area softball teams batter up

The Guyer Lady Wildcats are poised to make another good run this spring. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

Softball season will soon be in full “swing,” and many of the local teams look as strong as ever heading into the 2020 campaign.

Last season, all six programs in southern Denton County advanced to the postseason in the sport of softball; and much of the talent that led them there has returned.

The Guyer softball program, for example, finished 26-9 last season and reached the state quarterfinals.

With three returning starters– including two All-District selections– the Lady Wildcats should be in a good position to make another strong run.

“We’ve focused a lot on fundamentals during our offseason, as well as getting stronger in the weight room,” Coach Keith Medford said. “I’m really happy with where this group is at this time.”

All-District selections Ryan Gallegos and Ranci Willis (20-game winner from 2019) return for Guyer, along with starter Kate Moala.

Medford said things are shaping up nicely for the season and to keep an eye on such players as Lilly Galaviz, Lanee Willis, Nikki Overton, Madison Slater, Kate Wentworth and Ryleigh Nash this season as well.

“We want to win the District and make a deep run in the playoffs,” Medford said. “We’ve got to have great team chemistry, great attitudes and 100-percent effort in order to do that.”

Guyer finished 10-4 in District 5-6A competition in 2019 and third overall in the District standings.

Expect Keller and Haslet Eaton to be Guyer’s toughest opponents this season.

Down the road at Argyle, coach Kevin Cook said he has had a great turnout (31 players) for the AHS Varsity and JV softball programs this year, in addition to a lot of returning talent.

The Lady Eagles, who finished second place in District competition to advance to the playoffs in 2019, return seven starters. Cook said his goal is for his players remain healthy.

“We have the best collection of softball players Argyle has ever seen,” Cook said. “We expect great things from this team and hopefully a deep run in the playoffs.”

Lanie Rodgers, Abby Williams, Grace Rash, and Ashley Nazar should be among the team leaders for Argyle in 2020, and look for Decatur, Krum, and Springtown to be Argyle’s toughest district opponents this season.

For the Marcus softball team, a 12-2 mark and second place finish in District last season led to a Bi-District appearance, and coach Christy Tumilty said the objectives for this year are pretty straightforward.

“This season, our goals include finishing in the top four of our District and making a strong playoff run,” Tumilty said.

The Lady Marauders have nine returning varsity players, including Lexi Benson, Mikaila Kenney, Maddie Johnson, Brooke Johnson, Bella Hernandez, Emma Adair, Abby Kubin, Matie Wolkow and Haidyn Sokoloski.

Marcus finished 21-10 last season, and Lewisville, Hebron and Flower Mound should be the team’s most difficult District opponents in 2020.

“It’s always important to have great team chemistry along with teammates that support each other and celebrate team success,” Tumilty said. “These things, along with hard work, determination and competitive spirit will hopefully carry us to Austin.”

Across town at Flower Mound High School, assistant coach Alison Baird said the Lady Jaguar coaching staff could not be happier with how things are shaping up for 2020.

“This fall has been really fun,” Baird said. “This group we have is eager to succeed in their own way. We have a lot of girls who can play multiple positions, so it’s exciting to know how many options we have in order to put our team in the best position to be successful in each game.”

Flower Mound finished 13-1 last season in District competition and won a District Championship, with some serious fire power returning.

“We have Kaitlyn Sadler coming back,” Baird said. “She has been our starting pitcher for the last three years. Her overall record is 58-25 and her District record is 39-4. She is a great leader for our team and her work ethic and energy is contagious.

“Our first baseman, Jordyn Holland, is a junior who has worked really hard this fall and she will be a huge defensive and offensive strength for us. Sophomore, McKenna Andrews, is returning as well. She posted a .407 batting average last season with 15 RBI as a freshman.”

Marcus, Coppell and Hebron should be Flower Mound’s most difficult opponents in District this season. Baird said the expectations for the Lady Jags are high, but in a methodical way.

“Our objectives are pretty basic year in and year out,” Baird said. “We want to get better each day, play one pitch at a time and put others first. ‘Leave the program better than you when you joined is a major objective.”

For the Coram Deo softball team, a 10-4 overall record and trip to the postseason last year, has the Lady Lions hungry for more in 2020. Coach Peter Todd said things are looking good so far.

“We have a great roster of 11 strong players returning this year (eight are seniors), so looks like another solid season shaping up,” Todd said.

Kacey Heitschmidt, Catherine Newton, Isabel Nichols, Sierra Scruggs, Summer Rogers and Hollie Henderson are among the leading players returning for Coram Deo this season.

“For our team, it is really about enjoying the game,” Todd said. “We came out strong last year with solid hitting from everyone, and I’d like that to be our main focus again this season. We have some really strong hitters and that proved to be a successful foundation for the team.”

Look for Fellowship (Kennedale) and Pantego Christian to be Coram Deo’s toughest District opponents in 2020.

The Liberty Christian softball team lost to John Paul II in the area-round last season and will return three All-District selections from last year’s team, including Hannah Taylor, Taylor Skaggs and Peyton Sanderson.

That loss to John Paul II last season in the area round has the Lady Warriors eager to pick up where they left off in 2019.

Coach Alex Smith said she has been impressed with the turnout for softball this season and said she believes there could be even more players, once soccer and basketball wrap up.

“Things are looking good so far for Lady Warrior softball,” Smith said. “The number of students that are looking at joining the program are higher than they have ever been in the last five seasons I have been coaching here. We are excited about the growth of our program.”

Smith said she expects three players to lead the way for Liberty Christian this season– including Taylor Skaggs, Liberty’s starting catcher, who had eight home runs her sophomore year and hit .594 with a slugging percentage of .828 and 24 RBI her junior year.

Hannah Taylor plays center field, second base and first base for the Lady Warriors and had a slugging percentage of .855, with three home runs and 20 RBI this past season.

Peyton Sanderson plays shortstop and second base for Liberty Christian and her slugging percentage was .750 with two home runs.

All three players received first-team All-District honors in 2019.

Look for Nolan Catholic and Trinity Christian-Addison to be among Liberty’s more difficult District opponents this season. Smith said staying healthy and ahead of the competition, mentally, will be what Liberty Christian needs to make a good post-season run in 2020.

“It starts in practice and working hard daily and this can be a challenge with rigorous academic schedules and having a long season,” Smith said. “Getting that game day mentality ingrained in each player’s head starting in practice and the same all the way through the playoffs. Take one game at a time and approach each one with a champion mentality.”

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