Texas High softball coach Robbie Hatfield knows a good team in district will not advance to the postseason in 2019.
The Lady Tigers are accustomed to reaching the playoffs, bowing out early last season to eventual 5A state champion Forney. Hatfield still expects another run this year despite losing his star pitcher (Mabry Smith) to early graduation and Ouachita Baptist University.
Mount Pleasant and Sulphur Springs will be powers again with most of their girls back, and Hatfield suspects newcomers Lindale and Royse City will continue their winning ways and challenge THS, Mount Pleasant and Sulphur Springs for the league crown. Keep in mind only four schools advance to the playoffs.
“Lindale won a state championship a few years ago, and Royse City is always in the playoffs,” said Hatfield. “Basically, Mount Pleasant and Sulphur Springs just reload every year. Still, we can be a playoff team. It depends on how well my girls step up, and several are freshmen.”
Senior Lindsey Egger will replace Smith in the circle, but that’s nothing new for her. She has pitched a lot the last three seasons, and Hatfield is confident Egger will step up and answer the challenge.
Hatfield’s roster features a combination of experienced seniors and several multi-talented freshmen.
Junior shortstop Bailey Groom returns after suffering a serious knee injury in 2018. Kylee Spriggs and Kaitlyn Cross will be 4-year lettermen after this campaign. Spriggs will start behind the plate, while seeing some pitching duty when needed. Cross plays first and is one of the team’s best hitters.
Lady Tigers loaded with talented freshmen
Freshmen Lauren Allred, Alex Reed, Ashanti Northcross, Elizabeth Smith and Perez could be penciled in Hatfield’s lineup card.
“I think we’re going to be better defensively than we were last year,” said Hatfield. “I’m really happy with what I’m seeing on defense right now. These young girls, and the ones coming back are working extremely hard. We’ve got a lot of competition for the starting positions and playing time. That’s a good thing.
“Offensively, some of these girls have been sort of surprising me. We looked pretty good at the plate in our scrimmage with Liberty-Eylau. Barring injuries, and how our young players respond playing at the varsity level, I think we’ve got a chance to have a good club.”
Melissa Trotter-Hardy and Lauren Pilgreen will once again be on Hatfield’s coaching staff.
The Lady Tigers open Feb. 12 at home against Airline High School.