Softball season opens today for SSHS girls

Pitcher will miss first month

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 12, 2008 - SSHS softball coach David Carrillo has a dozen returning lettermen from last year, but he will start this season without one of the key players.

The Lady Cats open the season today when they travel to Athens to face the Lady Hornets. The JV game will start at 4:30 p.m. and the varsity at 6 p.m.

But, instead of three-year starter Marci Womack on the mound, Carrillo will go with a pair of younger pitchers. Womack, a First Team All-District pitcher who signed a letter of intent to play at West Texas A&M, is out for about a month after having wrist surgery.

Carrillo will instead start sophomore Taylor Clifton, who pitched 29 innings last year on varsity and compiled a 2-4 record and 4.06 ERA as a freshman. He will likely also pitch Kaci Kennedy, who pitched on JV last season. Junior Brittani Crawford could also see time in the circle.

"They've all done a great job during scrimmages," said Carrillo, who is hoping Womack will be ready to pitch when district starts on March 14. "We've got to play a little bit more defense right now. These girls are young and don't have a whole lot of varsity experience. They're going to make some mistakes, and we're going to live with it and roll on from there. As long as we're learning from those mistakes, we'll be OK."

With a number of big bats back in the line-up from last season, the Lady Cats should be able to compensate with the lack of experience in the circle by scoring runs.

Maurie Lewis, who hit a team-leading .360 while being voted Second Team All-District catcher as a freshman, is back along with junior Katie Dodd, a three-year starter at first base who had a team-high 23 hits and 11 RBI last season. Mac Morgan (.226 average, eight walks) was named the 11-4A Newcomer of the Year as a freshman last year, and infielder Amanda McGowin (.239 average, 13 runs scored) was the district's Utility Player of the Year. Senior Kelsey Evans, who signed to play softball at Hardin-Simmons, was a Second Team All-District outfielder.

"I feel pretty good about what we're going to have out there," Carrillo said. "The thing about this year is that I already know all the kids. We have a lot of different combinations that we can go to.

"I feel like anybody that I put up there on the varsity is going to be able to contribute. It doesn't bother me with any combination we need to go to. I feel comfortable with everybody I put out there."

After playing Athens today, the Lady Cats will return home to host a round robin tournament on Thursday-Saturday. Ten teams will play in the Division I bracket, while six teams (including the SSHS JV) will be in Division II bracket. Games will be played at Lady Cat Park and Coleman Park.

The Lady Cats will also play tournaments in Allen and Frisco as well as tough non-district games against Forney, Bishop Lynch and Liberty-Eylau. Carrillo said the main thing is just getting to play.

"We're ready to go play. We're ready to see what we're made of, finally put a lineup out there and see how it all blends together," he explained. "Right now, we're just concentrating on getting better every day as a team and see what we can do to put the best lineup out there before district."

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