Lady Tigers set to add one more round to menu

Four seniors lead a group of experienced youngsters

Rockdale returned to a modicum of its past success in a storied softball program last season, when the Lady Tigers recorded their first playoff series victory since 2006, dismissing Columbus.

The Lady Tigers were bumped out of the playoffs by No. 5 Huffman Hargrave in the area round in a one-game playoff, 7-3, so they have a new benchmark to aim for in 2013.

Rockdale has earned a playoff spot seven times in the past eight years and 14th overall in the 19-year history of the program.

With the young, but experienced 2013 roster, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the trend not to continue.

“We are very optimistic this year,” Keen said. We only graduated two girls last year and now we are trying to figure out what combination of girls works together the best. We have girls fighting for positions and that is helping push the girls to raise the level of competition.”

The Lady Tigers must replace centerfielder Victoria Drake (.475) and catcher Britni Newlin (.386), both first-team all-district performers.

It appears junior Alyssa Wallis —use primarily as a defender and pinch runner last season with only 11 at bats—will take over from Drake and bat leadoff.

Junior first baseman Maci Wages (.209) and sophomore utility player Faith Talley (.125) are waging a battle to be the catcher.

Meanwhile, Rockdale returns the rest of its lineup in tact, with senior Marissa Mireles (.286) anchoring the infield at shortstop, senior Lisa Vest (.333) at second, and junior Kayla Deary (.342) at third base.

Junior Amanda Boyd (.365, 14 RBI) returns in left field, while senior Morgan Fischer (.173) is back after a year as designated hitter.

Juniors Hailey Wright and Emily McCoy, who both saw limited action a year ago (12 combined at bats), fill out the roster and will be pushing hard for playing time.

Invaluable senior Kayleigh Montelongo checks in for her senior year after another outstanding season in which she not only led Rockdale on the mound (16-10, 3.46 ERA), she was the Lady Tigers’ top run producer with 17 runs batted in and four home runs.

With her 31-21 career record, Montelongo needs just 13 victories to surpass Sammie Meyers’ school record of 43, set from 2004-07.

“We have had three scrimmages so far and we keep building on each time before,” said Keen. “We are heading to Abilene this weekend to take on some new competition and we are looking forward to showing Rockdale softball to West Texas.”

Opener

The Lady Tigers opener at Weimar was canceled due to rain.


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2013-02-14 digital edition



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