With only 13 days before the softball season officially kicks off, the Lady Tigers and their new coach Sarah Harman are looking to build on the momentum they had in the fall and exceed last season's tepid mark of 15-35.
"This group has made significant strides in the off-season," said Harman. "The chemistry of this team will certainly be a strength. Our team has been demonstrating the ability to adapt and eagerness to accept new challenges."
The Tigers are poised for an explosive offensive lineup this season, returning Second Team All-Region Outfielder, Emily Tarango, who returns as the team's top offensive threat with a .315 batting average and .378 on base percentage. The Lady Tigers will also see added power from newcomers Angel Harrison, Hayden Short, Kadie Clark, Alisea Balderaz and Angelina Cardenas. However, Harman expects production from the top to bottom of her batting order.
"Our balanced attack includes a combination of speed and power," Harman said. "The key to the offensive success will be how well each individual player will be at their specific roles. Tarango returns with the highest batting average and yet she accounts for a lot of our speed. I expect our new comers to help in moving her into scoring position and see an increase in our RBI production."
MMI adds 13 new faces on the squad this season which will give this program an added lift. "The new players will add some significant depth to multiple areas on our roster. Our defense has been something that we are very proud of and the team works hard to limit throwing and mental errors. We have multiple players who can fill a variety of positions. "Newcomers Taylor Saucier, Bailey Connor, and Ashley Holt can be plugged into a variety of positions and they have shown consistency with their bats while Kennedy Harrison's strong arm and quickness at short stop will prevent extra baserunners." The outfield will see Tarango, and returner Andie Lopez, newcomers Kaitlyn Green and Holt. "The gains that the outfield core has made since August is very impressive. They ran down deep fly balls and had five outfield assists this past fall. They certainly can change the momentum of the game with some of the catches they make."
The Lady Tigers return one pitcher to the circle, Lauren Camacho, who had a 5.79 ERA and struck out 36 batters. Caitlyn Cooper and Lindsey Savoie will also be added to the circle. Camacho has valuable college experience from which she can draw upon while both Cooper and Savoie help compliment her very well. "The focus for the pitching staff is different than what they have had in the past. Having pitching as my strength as a coach has given them an added confidence and they not only take ownership of their skill, but their mental game has improved so much since August." Behind the plate MMI can have up to four different looks with returner Annelise Borg, and newcomers Sharayah Simco, Cardenas, and Saucier. "It's a pitchers dream to be able to always have a catcher on hand and all four catchers have done an excellent job learning the strengths of this pitching staff."
MMI will take its act on the road traveling to Bishop State February 3rd and follow up with a home doubleheader Saturday February 7th. They will play in 26 games before opening conference play at Southern Union, March 14th.
"The 26 games we compete in prior to conference will allow us to see a variety of competition and playing styles," said Harman. "The strength of the non-conference portion of our schedule should prepare us well as we move into conference play mid-March."
"Being competitive in the ACCC and qualifying for the Regional is our key goal," Harman said. "Tremendous progress was made throughout our fall season and the team is demonstrating ongoing growth through the off-season."