Baseball and softball look to start the season strong

By Nathan Reck

            Replacing an athlete that goes on to play at the college level isn’t easy, but replacing six Division I players in one year is next to impossible. That is what Coppell baseball coach Don English Cowboys must do as they prepare for the upcoming season.

            “Hard to replace the experience we lost, but with the inexperience we are seeing a burning desire to improve daily,” English said. “Our young players are competing for playing time every day and that’s a very good thing.”

            The team is looking to repeat as District 6-5A champions, but after that the goals for this team will be to have a different outcome than last year. After running away from the pack in district play and coasting to a championship last year the team was beat in the opening round of the playoffs by Grapevine.

Whether it was bad luck as the swine flu scare forced a one game series in the opening round as opposed to the normal best of three series or just a case of a team not performing when it counts, returning players are looking for a different result as the season approaches. The returning players will be lead by seniors Will Abbot, Parker Hutchins, Josh Montgomery, Quinn Hernandez and Zane Feemster.

            In terms of expectations, players and coaches alike believe that this team can handle the loss of such a deep and talented class and is capable of challenging for a district title once again this year.

            “We lost a lot of people and others have low expectations, but we know we can come up and surprise some people in district,” Hutchins said.

            The coaches agree this team has a chance to succeed if it comes together in time.

            “Every year we try and one-up the previous season, but it depends on how fast we mature as to how far we go this season,” English said. “Once we get in the playoffs, anything can happen.”

The team is putting in normal preseason training in preparation for district games which start on Mar. 16 at Southlake Carroll.

            Another team looking to prove themselves while going deep into the playoffs is the Coppell Cowgirl softball team.

            Playing sports at a varsity level is a privilege many athletes never get to experience, but for the seniors on the softball team it is nothing new. The returning senior class is looking to build off of last season.

            The team has 10 players who have already committed to play at the college level next year in catcher Rachel Forshaw (UTA), pitcher Laura Ramos (UTEP), Tricia Van Winkle (Louisiana Tech) at third base, Marisa Malazzo (University of Kansas) at shortstop, Amber Clifford (Southeastern Oklahoma State) at first and third base, Madison Buckley (Southern Arkansas) in the outfield, Kelsey Latta  (Tarleton State) at second base,  Lindsay Zabojnik  (Navarro) in the outfield, Sara Whitehead (LeTourneau) at first base or in the outfield, and pitcher Peyton Mosley (Abilene Christian).

            With such a deep senior class expectations are high as the team prepares for the upcoming season.

            “As long as we play as a team we can accomplish things,” Clifford said. “With such a senior laden team we have a shot at district and then a deep playoff run with state as a viable option.”

            The rest of the team seems to agree that a run at state is a realistic possibility.

            “If we come together and play as a team I think we can go to state,” Van Winkle said.

            Before getting to state or even the playoffs though the team has to make it through district, which is what the coaches are trying to get the team to focus on for now.

            “We are working on team chemistry for this year and want to take a strong mental focus into the season,” Cowgirls coach Katie Krug said.

            The team has gotten off to a solid start already as they participated in the Bryan Varsity Tournament in College Station the weekend of Feb. 18-20. The Cowgirls had a strong showing as they finished third. Their only loss came to Fort Bend Clements and Mosley picked up three wins.

            The Cowgirls then followed up the tournament with a win over Irving Nimitz at home with 5-0 shutout. Looking forward the Cowgirls have both the Allen Invitational and the McKinney ISD tournaments before starting district play on Mar. 24 against Southlake.

Special contribution by staff writer Andy Tabor