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The Dark Horses: Kinkaid leads group into season

Kinkaid's Abriana Nader

PRIVATE SCHOOL SOFTBALL DARK HORSES

KINKAID FALCONS

Kinkaid enters 2019 looking to get back to the SPC Championship game after falling short to Episcopal last season. The Falcons are seeking their first SPC crown since last winning it in 2008. Kinkaid has won seven titles all-time, with the majority of them coming in the late 80s. Haley Outon enters her first season leading the Falcons and she has some weapons in the arsenal. The Falcons do bring back All-SPC selections Abriana Nader and Julia Sanchez. This duo will serve as the centerpieces for this team.

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KATY ST. JOHN XXIII LIONS

Last season, Katy St. John XXIII finished second in district at 8-2 and garnered a playoff win against Dallas Ursuline, before getting knocked out in the second round of the TAPPS Division I playoffs, ending its year at 13-4. Heading into 2019, the Lions will be led in the circle and the plate by Lyndie Swanson (Houston Baptist). The first-team, all-state selection hit .647 with 20 RBIs, 11 doubles and three home runs last season. In the circle, Swanson went 13-4 with an impressive 0.60 ERA, tossing 15 complete games with seven shutouts. Of her 13 wins, four were no-hitters and three were perfect games. In 105 innings, Swanson struck out 175 and walked just 23. Other key returners include first-team, all-district pick Skyler Kutra (.396 avg, 9 RBIs) and second-team, all-district selections Callie Collins (.596 avg, 22 RBIs, 11 doubles) and Savannah Arnold (.375 avg, 13 RBIs). This team has the pieces to be successful and make a deep playoff run in 2019.

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ST. AGNES TIGERS

The Tigers reached the TAPPS Division I State Semifinals last season, falling short to eventual state champion San Antonio Incarnate Word. With the loss, St. Agnes finished the year 24-8-2 overall. The Eagles do return some key pieces for 2019, including first-team, all-state selection Shelby Echols (Houston Baptist). Also back is first-team, all-district selection Annie Budnik and second-team, all-district selections Hattie Meehan and Ella Salazar. This should be a fun team to watch.

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JOHN COOPER DRAGONS

The John Cooper School enters this season looking to make some noise in the playoffs, where last year it lost in the first round of the postseason. The Dragons did win the first game on the consolation side of the bracket but the rest of the games were cancelled in the SPC Championships on that side. Cooper does return some experience in juniors Alex Sims and Meghan Cloninger and sophomore pitcher Ally Flinn. Expect this trio to anchor the lineup and hold down the circle.

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