New look Sterling softball starts Tuesday

The hope is for a better return on its emotional investment for this year’s version of Ross S. Sterling softball.

Coming off a disappointing 12-16 season that started with playoff expectations and ended in fifth place of District 21-6A and watching the postseason, the Lady Rangers are aiming high this spring.

The season gets in the swing of things 6 p.m. Tuesday at Galena Park.

Fifth-year head coach D.J. Warner is feeling mighty optimistic going forward.

“We are in a good spot currently,” Warner said. “Each day they have been showing up to practice and putting in work to keep improving individually and as a team and program. We are challenging them to fight for each play, each pitch, each hit, each win, each adverse situation, each teammate, and for Lady Ranger Softball program.”

Warner cites the team’s returning experience that is bolstered by a core of seniors and includes DP Kaitlyn Stork, who can provide offensive power, C/INF Kendyl Rhea and her ability to work with the girls in the circle, INF/C Araseli Chavez, P/INF Kenady Irwin who can hit and man the corners as well as pitch, LF Geneva Garcia and CF Haley Lupian.

“We have a bunch of older people and a bunch of young kids, but the balance is going really well and we just need to find our groove,” Irwin said. “Our defense is really solid, but we just need to string some good bats together and go from there.”

In addition to those girls, Warner has some fresh faces to bolster the troops including freshman Kearston Gooch in the circle and at the top of the batting order and 2018 returnee Madelynn Hembree.

Navelli Faz will roam the outfield and offer speed on the basepaths.

“Currently there is a healthy competition between some freshman to fill in some remaining positions,” Warner said noting the play of Soriah Montemayor, Natizah Wooley, and Kylie Palma. 

She also cites the teams need to improve execution in challenging situations, especially on offense.

“We want to keep improving as each new stage of season approaches from scrimmages to regular season games and tournament, so that when district is here we are playing our best ball,” Warner said. “We want to get back to the state playoffs, players to earn district honors and keep growing the program.”

A year ago, the team had trouble seizing momentum and would struggle down the stretch in losses.

“This year we are a little more consistent,” Rhea said. “We have a lot of younger people, but they bring a lot to the team. They are all positive and ready to learn. They are easy to be coached and don’t have bad attitudes.”

Irwin says the missing of the playoffs has driven this year’s squad to rectify that result.

“We want to get back to where we two years ago, go further and scare teams that don’t really know who we are,” Irwin said.

Rhea said the team’s level of accountability individually for last year’s playoff miss rose and has pushed them forward.

“Lessons have been learned,” Rhea said. “We noticed from losing that we were inconsistent and we needed to work to stay up the entire game regardless if we were down or not.”

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