Lady Eagles roster youthful this year
Mi lano nat i ve Chad LaGrone takes over for John Hughes who took the Lady Eagles to the postseason last year, falling to Shiner in the bi-district round. This isn’t LaGrone’s first time to lead Milano softball. He was the head coach from 1998-2004.
During those seven years, he led the team to the postseason four times.
“It’s fun being a part of Milano sof tball,” Coach LaGrone said of returning as head diamond coach.
Coach LaGrone will look to seniors Emily Overall, Elizabeth Holt and Kelly Wadlington, along with sophomores Alejandra Ruelas and Keely LaGrone to lead the team, as all five are returning starters off last year’s squad.
“They have big game experience and that will help,” Coach LaGrone said.
Holt was a first teamer at third base in 2013, with Wadlington and LaGrone selected as honorable mentions at left field and second base, respectively.
Holt has moved over to first base and LaGrone out to centerfield.
Other returning off last year’s squad includes senior Sarah Pedroza and sophomores Tera Arledge, Ramona Castaneda and Dakota Steinbecker.
Almost half of the Lady Eagles’ starters right now are freshman. They include Naomi Graham, Cashlyne Blake, Madison Westbrook and Presley Hurt. Graham and Blake are splitting time at pitcher and short stop, with Westbrook and Hurt diving duties at second and third bases.
“Our freshmen are really versatile,” Coach LaGrone said.
Also on the varsity roster are juniors Victoria Gaston and Alyssa Roth, along with sophomore Jailene Alcala.
Coach LaGrone said the team’s quick wheels and positive chemistry will be strong assets for them this season.
“We will be able to play small ball (due to the team’s overall speed) and also have those heavy hitters in the lineup,” he said. “And those freshmen will play a huge role in both of those.”
GRADUATION—Milano graduated five starters off list year’s bi-district finalist team, including pitcher Kiersten Bastow, first baseman Raighley Shaw, short stop Stonie Guthrie, center fielder Hayleigh LaGrone and right fielder Samantha Waldrep. Bastow, Shaw and LaGrone were all-district first team selections last year, with Guthrie and Waldrep earning honorable mention nods.
Guthrie and LaGrone were named to the academic allstate softball team, with LaGrone also a second team All-Brazos Valley selection for the second straight year.
Milano was 12-13 last season, finishing third in league play behind Burton and Somerville.
TOURNEY TIME—The Lady Eagles went 1-3-1 at the Academy tournament over the weekend, getting some of that varsity experience under their belts.
“ The Academy tourney gave us a chance to play a lot of games with our young team,” Coach LaGrone said. “ I think we have gained more confidence.”
One of those loses was a 3-1 time decision to Bruceville Eddy, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 2A.
“ We didn’t know that when we played them, we just knew there were good,” Coach LaGrone said. “When we did find out our girls were like we might just be really good.” Two of the runs Bruceville-Eddy scored were unearned on errors.
The Lady Eagles also tied with Holland, fell to Pflugerville JV and Holland (when played them again) and defeated Thorndale.
Milano opened up its season on Feb. 18 with a 9-8 11- inning win at Riesel. Graham pitched the entire game.
UP NEXT—Milano will participate in the round-robin North Zulch tournament on Thursday and Saturday and travel for a double header at Bremond on Friday. The Lady Eagles will finally have their home opener on Tuesday when they host Holland.
The group starts District 27A play next week as they travel to Mumford on March 7.
TUESDAY NIGHT— Milano (3-3-1) took just five innings to run-rule Granger on the road Tuesday night 15-4. Graham and Blake split time on the mound, with Graham earning the win.