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ETSN.fm 2014 Softball Preview: Teams to Watch

The Lufkin Hudson softball team listens to coach Jimmy Eby after their 12-9 win against Mineola in the Class 3A state championship game on June 1, 2013, in Austin. (Travis Harsch, ETSN.fm)

ETSN.fm 2014 Softball Preview

TEAMS TO WATCH

Lufkin Hudson

  • 2013 record: 38-7-1 (Class 3A state champion)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: No. 1
  • Players to watch: Bryli Lee, Soph., INF (.350, 3 HRs, 29 RBIs, 13 doubles, 4 triples, 49 runs, 16 steals); KK Parker, Sr., OF (.336, 4 HRs, 44 RBIs, 17 doubles, 4 triples, 36 runs)
  • Outlook: The two-time defending state champion Lady Hornets will have a lot to replace, including all-state pitcher and LSU signee Kelsee Selman. But with the return of Lee and Parker, Hudson is armed with plenty of meaningful experience.
Mineola players gather at home plate to congratulate Morgan Catron on her home run during Mineola’s 8-1 win over Spring Hill in Game 1 of their Class 3A Region II bi-district playoff series on April 26, 2013, in Longview. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Mineola

  • 2013 record: 31-9 (Class 3A state finalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: No. 2
  • Players to watch: Rikkilyn Hass, Sr., P (30-9; .365, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 9 doubles, 11 runs); Morgan Catron, Sr., C (.483, 10 HRs, 34 RBIs, 12 doubles, 5 triples, 37 runs, 20 steals); Jade “Sister” Green, Jr., INF (.431, 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 8 doubles, 5 triples, 24 runs, 9 steals)
  • Outlook: There are a few holes left from last season, most notably at the top where coach Jana Nance resigned during the offseason. On the field, Mineola loses senior standouts Ali Galaz and Britney Johnson, but does return a solid nucleus in Hass, Catron and Green.
Van’s Hallee Carter connects during the Lady Vandals’ Class 3A Region II championship series with Mineola on May 25, 2013, in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Van

  • 2013 record: 29-7-1 (Class 3A Region II finalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: No. 7
  • Players to watch: Sierra Nichols, Jr., P/UTL (13-1, 2.23 ERA, 59 strikeouts; .346, 7 HRs, 37 RBIs, 6 doubles, 1 triple); Autumn McKinney, Sr., P/UTL (12-4, 2.21 ERA, 122 strikeouts; .383, 1 HR, 27 RBIs, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 32 runs, 10 steals); Hallee Carter, Jr., OF (.448, 1 HR, 33 RBIs, 12 doubles, 10 triples, 41 runs, 9 steals)
  • Outlook: It should be another war between District 15-3A rivals Van and Mineola in 2014, and the Lady Vandals are not short on firepower this season. The pitching combo of Nichols and McKinney, along with all-around play of Carter, make Van a formidable opponent to whichever team in plays.

 

Pollok Central

  • 2013 record: 32-7 (Class 3A Region III semifinalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: None
  • Players to watch: Katelyn Boles, Jr., P/UTL (0.38 ERA in regular season, 0.45 ERA and 102 strikeouts in playoffs, 388 total strikeouts; .410, 6 HRs, 32 RBIs); Krissy Capps, Sr., INF (.610, 12 HRs, 48 RBIs)
  • Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs present a deadly combination. The 1-2 punch of Boles and Capps in the lineup will afford Central the opportunity to become one of the area’s best offenses, while Boles’ brilliance in the circle will make it difficult for opposing teams to score. We won’t really know how good Central is until District 20-3A play begins, as the Lady Bulldogs share the same league as two-time defending state champion Lufkin Hudson and perennial power Huntington.

 

Henderson

  • 2013 record: 27-10 (Class 3A Region II quarterfinalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: None
  • Players to watch: Jessica Thomas, Sr., C; Taylor Sledge, Sr., INF; Kami McCaw, Sr., P/INF; Jaci Hurt, Sr., OF
  • Outlook: First-year coach Jerry Cummins has his work cut out after the loss of Texas signee Tiarra Davis as well as the graduation of standout shortstop Natalie McQuiston. But if history has told us anything, Henderson will be just fine. The senior corps of Thomas, Sledge, McCaw and Hurt have been through the battles before.
Garrison lines up to shake hands following a 5-2 loss to Pilot Point in a Class 2A state semifinal on May 29, 2013, in Austin. (Travis Harsch, ETSN.fm)

Garrison

  • 2013 record: 23-10 (Class 2A state semifinalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: No. 4
  • Players to watch: Kaily Cox, Jr., INF (.333); Hannah Walker, Sr., INF (.284)
  • Outlook: Garrison made a surprise journey to the state semifinals a season ago, and the question becomes what’s next? Losing all-state pitcher Catherine Heflin, who pitched in all 33 games a season ago, will hurt. But Cox and Walker were integral pieces to puzzle in 2013 for Garrison, and should provide the Lady Bulldogs with enough firepower to remain relevant.

 

Harmony

  • 2013 record: 24-12 (Class 2A Region III semifinalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: None
  • Players to watch: Cailee Davidson, Jr., INF (.318, 9 RBIs, 8 doubles); McKenna Thomas, Sr., P/INF (3-4, 3.20 ERA, 43 strikeouts in 35 innings; .290, 18 RBIs, 3 doubles, 18 runs)
  • Outlook: Harmony graduated a stellar senior class that included Courtney Matulis and Keirsten Seahorn, but returns a pair of significant holdovers in Davidson and Thomas. Davidson hit over .300 as a sophomore, while Thomas’ role in the circle is expected to be expanded.

 

New Diana

  • 2013 record: 26-9 (Class 2A Region III quarterfinalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: None
  • Players to watch: Brook Niles-Abbas, Jr. (.350, 1 HR, 18 RBIs, 6 doubles, 21 runs); Kayli Morvan, Jr. (.278, 8 RBIs, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 22 runs)
  • Outlook: New Diana will have the unenviable task of replacing big-time standouts in Courtney Rogers and Jessica Hampton, but the standard for the program has been set high. Expect the Lady Eagles to built upon last year’s third-round finish with the return of Niles-Abbas and Morvan, who both enjoyed breakout sophomore seasons in 2013.
The Beckville Ladycats accept their Class A state semifinalist plaque after a 13-3 loss to Weimar on May 29, 2013, in Austin. (Travis Harsch, ETSN.fm)

Beckville

  • 2013 record: 29-9 (Class A state semifinalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: No. 3
  • Players to watch: Carley Lawhorn, Soph., INF (.491, 6 HRs, 50 RBIs); Taylor Lindsay, Sr., INF (.539, 29 RBIs, 48 steals)
  • Outlook: Beckville will pin its hopes to a return trip to the state tournament in Austin on its thunder-and-lightning duo of Lawhorn and Lindsay. Lawhorn will provide the thunder after hitting nearly .500 and leading the team in RBIs, while Lindsay is always a threat to swipe a bag or two after finishing 2013 with 48 steals.

 

Grapeland

  • 2013 record: 25-13 (Class A Region III finalist)
  • Preseason TGCA ranking: None
  • Players to watch: Baylee Lumbreraz, Jr., P (19-7, 2.98 ERA, 146 strikeouts and 57 walks); Shelby Frauenberger, Jr., OF (.547, 18 RBIs, 48 runs)
  • Outlook: Grapeland got within two wins of reaching the state softball tournament last season, and despite losing a significant amount of firepower to graduation, should once again be in the mix late in the playoffs. Lumbreraz came on strong during the postseason, and big things are of expected of her this spring. Frauenberger will be counted upon to pick up the offensive slack.

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