While it's early on in the season, VYPE has identified the 2019 softball sleepers. Teams who can peak at the right time in district play, snag a title or make a deep run in the postseason.
See who the are teams to watch this season that aren't getting a ton of shine.
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CLEAR CREEK WILDCATS
Clear Creek returns six starters from a 20-10 team that lost in the bi-district round of the playoffs to Brazoswood last season. Leading the way is senior 3B/SS Brianna Aranzeta (.488 average, 20 RBIs), senior C Madison Petrella (.415, 25 RBIs), junior 1B/DH CeCe Huff (.327, 20 RBIs), junior Megan Lee (1.39 ERA, 26 ER in 131 IP), junior OF Pam Richardson (.295) and sophomore 2B Loran Salinas (.353, 11 RBIs). This year’s Wildcats have nine players committed to play college softball. “Having a positive attitude and owning up to your mistakes will be key,” coach Andrea Cash said.
Pitching and defense will be keys to success for the Ladykats, who return five starters from a 25-9 team that finished as area finalists last season. McNeese University-signee Ashley Vallejo (11-0, 1.25 ERA, 133 Ks to 31 BBs in 95.1 IP) is Willis’ ace. Hannah Earls (.517 average, 14 RBIs, 8 stolen bases) and Hailey Eten (.313, 18 RBIs, 3 HRs) will be big pieces to the lineup to complement the stellar pitching in the circle. Willis is eyeing its sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs.
The Yellowjackets return four starters from a 24-8 team that lost in the first round of the playoffs. But the postseason is tradition for a program that has made it 10-plus consecutive years and the playoffs are the goal again. Alvin will have five to seven underclassmen as starters, but a talented young group of kids. Improving on offense and playing sharp defense will be critical, coach David McCorkle said. Grace Coffelt is a Lamar State-commit. Other
OAK RIDGE WAR EAGLES
After a 24-11 2018 season that finished in the Class 6A state semifinals, as the best in program history, Oak Ridge enters 2019 with a plethora of newness. Eleven seniors graduated and a new head coach is in place in Stephanie Rougeau, who takes over after Amanda Brimberry left to take over Grand Oaks. The Lady War Eagles have talent in Louisiana-Lafayette commit Samantha Graeter, a starter players to keep an eye on are Clarissa Barron (.360, 6 RBIs, 7 stolen bases), Mary Pourcio (.247, 8 RBIs), Jodyn Frederic (.500), Shae Montemayor (.286) and Khori Bolton (.275, 10 RBIs, 9 stolen bases). as a freshman last year, and junior Kennedy Reynolds, a McNeese State-commit. Mya Briones and Morgan Detton also figure into the plans. Oak Ridge will have just four seniors.
Spring went 30-4 last season before falling in the regional quarterfinals. The Lions graduated 12 seniors from that team, however, but not all is lost. Senior Shelby Pelton (.380 average, 13 RBIs, HR), and juniors Madalynn Leal (.530, 43 RBIs) and Chloe Gomez (.582, 40 RBIs, 4 HRs) provide a dangerous trio at the plate. Gomez is a McNeese State-commit. The Lions graduated all three of their pitchers who played last season, but offense should be no problem as they figure out their aces in the circle.