Softball makes a pitch for playoff spot

Madeline Cannon, Staff Writer

The girls softball team has one goal in mind: state tournament. They started off with a winning record that can potentially place them in a position to make playoffs. But with a new, harder district play, lots of work is needed to secure a playoff spot according to coach Staci Jackson.

“Our district, just like all the sports, is really tough,” Jackson said. “Right now at this certain moment, there is one team ahead of us: Flower Mound and we are tied for second place with Marcus. Flower Mound has only one loss and Marcus and us have two losses and six wins so we are right in the mix. Denton Ryan has two wins and Coppell has one. So I think if we’re going to beat anybody we definitely need to beat Denton Ryan and Coppell.”

The team is having to combat the loss of talented players like alumna Heather Stearns, who led the team with 229 strikeouts and pitched the team to the fourth round of playoffs, ending with a 28-11 record. In order to improve, this year’s team has had to work on many aspects of their game Jackson said.

“We’ve had to step up our defensive play because we don’t have a strikeout pitcher anymore,” junior outfielder Kassi Wilson said. “But our pitchers are doing everything they can to make sure that those hits are earned and we just have to make sure our defense is on game and that our offense is making up for those runs that the other team scores.”

Two seniors have stepped up to lead the team this year. Senior pitcher Chelsea Herndon drives the team in hits (39) and home runs (9). Herndon has also pitched seven wins and only two losses for the team. Senior catcher Deja Talton is also a leading hitter with 24 hits and 26 RBIs.

“Chelsea has been really strong offensively and defensively,” Wilson said. “Deja has also been the leading catcher this year and has really stepped up as a leader on and off the field.”

This year’s team has more hits than the previous season’s, which mitigates the loss of a major strike-out pitcher. The team has five players with over 15 hits for the season.

“The offense has really been our strength this year,” Jackson said. “We’ve been hitting the ball and scoring a lot of runs, even more so than last year.”

Although the team has been aggressive on offense, they are continuing to work on defensive skills. In order to contest the possible runs scored, the defense has to be on its game at all times according to Jackson.

“At the beginning of the year, we were having problems communicating on defense,” Wilson said. “Since district started, we’ve been doing a lot better communicating.”

The team has to be stellar the rest of the season in order to secure a playoff spot. Four teams from each district make the playoffs, so it is necessary that the girls are in a position to hold onto at least a fourth place spot. Flower Mound leads with a 7-1 district record; whereas, the team is sitting in third place with a 5-3 district record.

“The team is strong and [the girls] have really prepared me for the next steps in softball,” Herndon said. “This team has a lot of chemistry that will turn into success.”

The team will continue to improve on their offense until the end of the season as well as working more on defense in order to achieve their goal of making playoffs and making it to the state tournament.

“Our goal, just like every year, is to make it in,” Jackson said. “To fight, battle, claw, everything we can do to make it in the top four.