Every day is a new opportunity
By LPR Staff
Fans in the stands, lights in the air, and the smell of roasted peanuts.
Baseball and softball season have come back to Lockhart, and for the last week, the Lockhart Lion Baseball and Softball Complex on Medina Street has been alive with activity as the Lions and Lady Lions practice, scrimmage, and get read
y to jump feet-first into the upcoming season.
Facing down a history that has seen the Lions limp through baseball season, picking up only sporadic wins, Head Baseball Coach James Patton is meeting the new year, and the challenge of a new District, with confidence and pride.
“I think that the program is ready to turn the corner,” he said. We will have competitive teams at every level and I feel that if we continue to progress with our skill levels, we are capable of making the playoffs.”
Playoffs might be a tall order, with Lockhart facing last year’s Area Champion Seguin Matadors, and Regional Quarterfinalists, the Kerrville Tivy Antlers. Patton said the competitive fire in this year’s dugout just might be able to make that happen.
“A large number of our players worked diligently over the summer and fall to improve their skills thanks to several alumni who gave their time and resources to help improve these players,” he said. “The coaching staff is working hard to instill self-confidence, as well as to improve the skill levels of all the players.”
The Lions had a rough season last year, going 6-22 on the season, without a win in District play, according to MaxPreps.com. Patton realizes there are challenges yet to overcome.
“Aside from the very good teams in our district, our biggest obstacle to overcome will be our pitching,” he said. “Our pitchers must force contact and improve their strikeout to walk ratios. We must, as a pitching staff, be able to give our defense the chance to have the opportunities to make plays and alleviate big innings.”
Tryouts for the Lion baseball teams were held in late-January and early-February, and began scrimmage play this week. They play their home opener during the Lockhart Lion Baseball Tournament from Feb. 26-28, and open District play in Seguin on March 3.
Meanwhile, across the street, the Lady Lions are working to train up a new crop of softball stars, after losing seven seniors (including five starters who went on to play at the collegiate level on scholarships.”
“We have lots of new faces and exciting young potential,” Head Softball Coach Katy Snell said. “This is a ‘reloading’ year, with lots of young talent. This team has the potential to surprise a lot of teams if they overlook us.”
Coming back from a year where they earned a Bi-District Championship and fell in the Area Playoffs, the Lady Lions are no strangers to success. Building on a strong record of playoff bids, the Lady Lions’ biggest challenge this year is expected to come from the San Marcos Lady Rattlers.
“They were a game away from state last year when they lost in a series split to San Antonio Southwest in the Regional Final Class 5A,” Snell said. “The remainder of the District should be pretty evenly-matched.”
Along with Lockhart and San Marcos, Seguin and Boerne-Champion are expected to be playoff contenders once again this year. Like the Lady Lions, the Boerne-Champion Lady Chargers went two rounds in the playoffs last year, before being thwarted in the Area Playoffs.
With only four returning starters, (senior outfielder Aslynn Garcia, junior second baseman Destinee Mann, junior catcher, Kendra Litchfield, and sophomore outfielder Bella Ybarra) Snell expects her team to “take some bumps and bruises” throughout the course of the season, but is well aware those challenges will be part of the learning process. Already, she said, her returning starters are looking to lead the younger players and continue the Lady Lions’ tradition of success – with a few small changes.
“We should have the quickest team in the eight years I’ve been here,” Snell said, noting the upside of losing so many seniors. “We’ll look to run a little more, be more aggressive on the base paths to create more opportunities and place pressure on the defense.”
Starting their season with scrimmage and tournament play, the Lady Lions will take the field at home for the first time on Friday, Feb. 27, when they square off with the San Antonio Memorial Minutemen in the first game of District 27-5A play.