Will positive direction return Lockhart to playoffs?


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

In just the second week of fall softball, first-year Lockhart Head Coach Manny Espino saw and heard signs his Lions were headed in the right direction.

It took going to Seguin to see and hear such.

For the first time in the previous decade, the Lady Lions missed the softball postseason last year, going just 2-21, including 0-10 in district play.

Enter Espino, who has taken over the very proud program. He plans to return pride to the team.

A native of Martindale who went to high school in San Marcos, Espino returned to Caldwell County after a stint in the corporate world in mortgage, sales and foreclosures.

Espino is high on buying stock in his Lions.

“We had a great fall ball season in Seguin,” Espino said. “Things really came together kind of halfway through the fall. We played Seguin in the second week and lost to them like 6-1. Last year we played them and lost like 10-0. We played them toward the end of fall ball and jumped on them and beat them something like 8-3. My assistant coach said a lot of Seguin people were talking about how Lockhart had improved.”

It’s not as though Espino will be heading into his first regular season with tones of experience. His roster includes just two seniors, seven juniors and four sophomores.

“We’re still a fairly young team,” Espino said. “One of our battle cries is to compete of course. Every day, come out and compete and get better. Compete with your teammates, push each other to get better. Build off that the following day. Everyone’s goal is to always make playoffs. I firmly believe and the girls have bought into this too, and we can compete for one of those top four spots.”

Lockhart opens its regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Seguin. The Lions’ home-opener is Feb. 20 vs. Cedar Creek on Future Lions Night beginning with the Junior Varsity at 5 p.m., and the Varsity at 7 p.m. LHS will play five scrimmage games prior to starting the regular season. (See schedule and roster below.)

A strength of the Lady Lions will be pitching depth, including four girls who will et their chances in the circle.

Junior Emma Betancourt is the most celebrated Lockhart hurler, although she missed most of the last season with an injury.

“Having Emma back is definitely gonna be a plus for us, but we’ve got three other pitchers we can throw in the circle and have full confidence in them,” Espino said. “I do believe that pitching is going to be a strength for us. Emma has been a starter since her freshman year. She’s 100 percent now.”

One of Espino’s goals when he arrived last June in Lockhart was to get his girls physically stronger, faster, mentally stronger and knowing how to overcome adversity and competing.

“The girls got stronger,” he said. “The girls got faster. They worked hard in the weight room. They worked hard on the days we’ve been outside, such as running hills, pushing sleds, doing things to build explosiveness and build speed and doing things for footwork and agility. Hopefully, that will transition to the field. I couldn’t be happier, but I’m also semi-satisfied because now the real work is about to start with the season. I feel like these girls have meshed well.”

Hitting-wise, Espino believes working in the weight will pay off, too.

“The biggest thing that comes down to hitting is being confident at the plate,” he said. “I do believe we can be a good hitting team this year. We have some girls who have some speed as well, so that should help us out on the bases, creating some havoc.”

Defensively, Espino feels is a part of the game his team needs to continue to improve.

“During fall ball, we played really good defense,” he said. “I feel like that’s something that’s really going to help us out, especially in tight games.”

Espino is helped by assistant coaches Anthony Hernandez, Teresa Early and Rachel Huggins.

The Lions have had about 30 players including junior varsity.

“It’s been really good,” he said. “I think I’ve acclimated really well to Lockhart High School. “Support has been great. Parents have been awesome and very supportive, as has been the booster club and the administration. One of the reasons I came here was because I knew that community support was going to be here. Growing up in Martindale and going to school in San Marcos I knew that Lockhart was a very tight community. That’s been phenomenal.

“At least once a month, we’re doing some kind of community involvement; going out to the elementary schools, whether it’s greeting students in the morning or reading to students. We did some involvement with the nursing homes, helping out with Marla’s Place. We collected items around Christmas and donated them to Marla’s Place. We also adopted a local family to buy Christmas gifts for the family, partnering with the Lockhart baseball team.”

Liberty Hill won the softball district title last season and is expected to be strong again, as are Leander, Hays, and Leander Glenn. Other schools in Lockhart’s district include Leander Rouse, Cedar Park, and Kyle Lehman.

* * *

Lockhart 2024 Softball Schedule


27 – at San Marcos (scrimmage), JV 8 a.m.; V 10 a.m.

29 – Llano (scrimmage), V 5 p.m.


  2 — at SA Highlands (scrimmage), JV 5 p.m.; V 6:30 p.m.

  6 – at LaGrange (scrimmage), JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

  9 – Akins, (scrimmage), JV5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

13 – at Seguin, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

15-17 – Seguin Tournament at Huber Ranch. TBA

20 – Cedar Creek (Future Lions Night), JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

22-24 – Incarnata Word Academy Corpus Christi Tournament at Portland, TBA

27 – *at Hays, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

Feb. 29-March 2 – Heart of Hays County Tournament, TBA


  5 — *Glenn, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

  8 — *at Cedar Park, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

11 — *Rouse, JV Noon; V 2 p.m.

13 — *at Liberty Hill, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

19 — *Kyle Lehman (Teacher Appreciation Night) , JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

21-23 – Buda Johnson JV Round Robin, TBA

22 — *at Leander, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

26 –*Hays, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.


  2 — *at Glenn, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

  5 — *Cedar Park, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

  9 — *at Rouse, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

12 — * Liberty Hill, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

16 — *at Kyle Lehman, JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

19 — *Leander (Parents/Senior Night), JV 5 p.m.; V 7 p.m.

* — District

2024 Lockhart Softball Roster

1 – Presli Moebes (jr.)

2 – Andrea Barrientos (fr.)

3 – Caitlin Pardo (sr.)

4 – Gina Nieto (jr.)

5 – Sabrina Ariza (so.)

6 – Aniah Johnson (sr.)

7 – Alina Manzano (so.)

8 – Heaven Cantu (jr.)

9 – Marissa Sosa (so.)

10 – Genesis Lopez (jr.)

11 – Evelyn Rodriguez (jr.)

14 – Jordan Deutsch (fr.)

15 – Emma Betancourt (jr.)

19 – Emma Reyes (jr.)

21 – Dani Valadez (so.)

Head Coach — Manny Espino; Assistant Coaches – Teresa Early, Anthony Hernandez, Rachel Huggins

2024 LHS JV Softball Roster

Alina Manzano (so.)

Addison Harrod (fr.)

Yadira Ferretiz (so.)

McKenzie Hanna (so.)

Kariah Curtis-Jackson (so.)

Scarlett Ponce (fr.)

Katlynn Dunn (jr.)

Gabriella Garcia (so.)

Ajay Quintero (so.)

Hollie Castillo (fr.)

April Rios (fr.)

Renee McNight (so.)

London Cosper (fr.)

Hudson Smith (fr.)


Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.