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Home News-Telegram Sports Lady Cats expect success in 2009 season

Lady Cats expect success in 2009 season

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There's no reason to doubt history.

And if history repeats itself, then the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats will earn another ticket to postseason play in softball.

That's the way head softball coach David Carrillo has it figured anyway.

With seven returning starters back from a 24-13 area playoff team last year, no wonder he's smiling.

"I am just building on the success that was already here," Carrillo said. "Coach McCullough (John McCullough, now SSHS principal) had this program going great. I just want to continue it." In five years, McCullough had a 129-52 record winning four district titles in 2000-2005.

Carrillo is in his third year at SSHS posting a 41-27 record, in 18 years of coaching softball he has a record of 188-103.

Rachel Curtis will coach freshmen while Eric Buck will coach the junior varsity and assist Carrillo during varsity games.

"The kids here always love to play softball. This town is big on it, I knew it coming in here. It fits in with me, because I love to coach softball," Carrillo said. "I am blessed to have the opportunity to coach here."

The coach said that when basketball is concluded and the full team is on the diamond he will have more than 50 girls participating. Teams will be fielded on the freshman, junior varsity and varsity level.

Top players returning include Katie Dodd, senior infielder, she was a second team all-state selection by the Texas Sports Writers Association, she also was the Offensive Player of  the Year in district and top first baseman. Other returning first team all-district selections include: Mac Morgan, junior infielder; Maurie Lewis, junior catcher; Jamonica Hall, junior outfielder, Krista McMahan, senior catcher/outfielder; named to the second team and returning are: Kaci Kennedy, senior pitcher; Taylor Clifton, junior pitcher; Kara Tomlinson, sophomore outfielder, was an honorable mention choice.

Teams in district this year include Pine Tree, Longview, Marshall, Texas High, Mount Pleasant and Hallsville.

"We think we fit in this district pretty well. It is kind of like half our old district with some new teams put in," Carrillo said. "There's lots of good programs out there, like Hallsville. Hallsville just reloads. Texas High will be very tough, along with Pine Tree. Marshall has all their kids coming back."

Carrillo is confident about the chances of his team due the big bats the Lady Cats swing.

"One coach asked me if we slap or bunt at it and told him we just hit," Carrillo said. "We are a very good hitting team. Katie Dodd, from her success last year, is probably the top hitter for power and average. But I feel comfortable with anyone in the lineup at the plate. We put the ball in play and make things happen. Our offensive is definitely our strong point. We don't expect to drop off this year."

Carrillo said, "It's just a matter of getting the rust off and getting our pitchers going. Kaci Kennedy is a senior pitcher, she relies on finesse and ball placement. She has a decent fastball, good change up.  Taylor Clifton is a junior, she's more of a power pitcher, she throws it hard. She brings it to you. The combination of the two styles compliment each other, especially if we can get them both in the same game."

The pitchers were used in an alternating rotation last year.  The right-handers may both get in half a game each early in the year.

The Lady Cat pitchers are backed up by good defense and speed on the diamond.

"We have most of our defense back," Carrillo said. "We just have a few holes to fill. We will work on that during our scrimmages.  Seeing different players at some positions like second base and in the outfield. McMahan will probably be used at second base and the rest will be the same as last year."

Carrillo said, "Our seniors will bring the leadership, I have challenged them to take it to the next level. They have to have the vision to do this. They must create the atmosphere, they have no second chances, this is their last year. McMahan, catching and at second base; Brittani Crawford in the infield and Katie Dodd at first and Kaci Kennedy on the mound."

The coach said his team needs to work on their mental attitude and toughness of mind on the field.

"We had a great off-season, we pushed the kids hard. To be able to make the plays with the game on the line," Carrillo said. "We've been to the playoffs, it gets tougher at each level. Nobody wants to let the tradition down. Everybody wants to be a Lady Cat."

Carrillo said, "These girls can really play. Several are on select team and play all  year.  It's their coaches and dads who have worked with them and they were good when I got here. They work hard and do it all the time."

“The varsity participated in their first scrimmage Thursday and competed well,” Carrillo said. “ I view scrimmages as a great learning tool in which to evaluate our player's performances. It also provides us with feedback on which to improve on. Our scrimmages are against some good established programs which I believe will make us better in the long run. We had an opportunity to see good pitching last night and had our first look at our team in actual game-like situations. We looked rusty but I expected that. We will improve with each game and we are looking forward to having a great year.”




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