Despite some subtle differences that look major, Mansfield Timberview coach Donya Mooney insists her team is just more confident.
With three seasons gone since the last time the Wolves made the playoffs, Mooney’s squad is off to a 12-4-1 overall start, including a 5-0 District 7-5A record.
“It’s just coming together,” she said. “We have the look now of a team that belongs and we’re playing like we belong there now.”
Perhaps the most glaring difference is on the mound. Three-year starter Ashley Tharp has moved from pitcher to third base and into the leadoff role.
To say it’s been a success is an understatement.
She leads the team in at-bats with 52, 16 runs scored and five extra-base hits. One of the latter, a home run, and has 14 RBIs.
With the change in defense, she’s had one error at third and given up only five earned runs in 21 relief innings. That’s also given freshman Mariah Denson a spot as a starting pitcher.
“I can’t say enough about the kind of maturity Ashley has,” Mooney said. “She accepted the role and it gives us another weapon if we need her to come in and close out games.”
Mooney said she knew her team was in the right frame of mind when Timberview lost to Bryan earlier this season at a tournament in Houston.
Despite the 4-2 loss, Bryan’s offense was averaging an average of 20-plus runs and Denson stepped out in big fashion by working out of a bases-loaded jam.
She retired the side after that and Mooney sensed her team was finally rounding into form.
Denson is 9-2 on the season with 84 strikeouts.
Back to .500
Grapevine, which lost to Mansfield Legacy in the bi-district round of the playoffs last season, is back to 6-9 overall and 2-2 in District 6-5A after dropping its first two district games.
What concerned coach Steve Bottoms most was figuring out pitching struggles. Starter Hannah Maxey is starting to settle into the regular duty after a rough start.
After giving up four runs in the opening two innings of a loss to Grapevine, Maxey blanked the Panthers with four scoreless innings, before giving way to relief in the seventh.
“Earlier this season, we just hadn’t figured out how to pitch,” Bottoms said. “But each game, we’re getting better.”
A better Bowie
Arlington Bowie is off to a 3-2 start in District 3-5A, but coach Kari Kitchens said she knows the team is capable of more.
The Volunteers have been to the playoffs each of the past six years, but have started this season 7-9.
“Spring break came at a good time,” she said. “Maybe I’m just frustrated because we lost some kids to grades and we haven’t been focused. But we are starting to hit the ball well.”
Kitchens also said her team has had flashes of good play on defense, but crucial errors unraveled in a loss to North Crowley.
Bowie rounds out the first half of district play this week with games against Arlington and Arlington Martin.
Games of the week
Tuesday: Southlake Carroll at Keller, 5:30 p.m.; Pantego Christian at Grapevine Faith, 6 p.m.; Trophy Club Nelson at White Settlement Brewer, 6:30 p.m.
Friday: Dallas Bishop Dunne at Nolan Catholic, 7 p.m.; Arlington Martin vs. Arlington Bowie, 6 p.m.; Saginaw Boswell at Birdville, 7:30 p.m.
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