Softball Insider: Saginaw poised for share of District 6-4A title

Posted Monday, Apr. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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It has been four years since Saginaw won a district softball title and made the playoffs.

This year, it’s likely that will change.

The Rough Riders are tied for the lead in District 6-4A with Birdville.

A 4-2 win last week gave each team one loss in district, and when the final week of play wraps on Friday, Birdville and Saginaw could share the title.

“The great thing about this team is that none of these girls have been to the playoffs,” Saginaw coach Hank Fulkerson said. “They are excited and I really believe they are playing their best softball at the right time.”

No matter this week’s outcome, Saginaw and Birdville will play a one-game warmup Saturday at 1 p.m. at Haltom High School.

The game might decide the seeding in the playoffs if both teams are tied for the title.

Saginaw (19-9, 12-1 in district) struggled the last two seasons playing in a rough-and-tumble Class 5A district that included Keller, Keller Central, Coppell and Southlake Carroll.

Sixth-place finishes the last two seasons were not necessarily indicative of the kind of softball the Riders could play.

When they worked a 1-2-3 seventh to get the win over Birdville last Tuesday, it was the culmination of things peaking at the right time.

Saginaw started the season with a 7-8 record and Fulkerson noted that some of the losses were by one run.

A 3-2 loss to Mansfield Timberview let him know that his team’s defensive mindedness would pay off late in the season.

Shortstop Kendall Moore and second baseman Hailey Bell have bottled up the middle infield while first baseman Donna Hanners has provided the defensive spark down the right-field line.

Fulkerson pointed to the Birdville win as an example of how much defense carries the team.

The Hawks had tied things up with two runs in the sixth and the go-ahead run was on third when third baseman Tory Hernandez flipped a routine grounder to first to get the second out. Hanners then turned and fired home, catching the runner for a threat-ending double play.

“Those are the things, the key defensive plays that have made the difference this year,” Fulkerson said. “We’ve got an offense too, but defense is where we’ve built confidence.”

Pitcher Mary Lenth is hitting .500 and center fielder Rachel Hills .448 to lead the offensive punch. Lenth is 12-6 on the season with a 2.60 ERA.

“She’s not a power pitcher by any means,” Fulkerson said. “But Mary puts the ball in the right place to let her defense work for her.”

Demanding respect

Trinity Valley’s Riley Sartain isn’t going to make the list of area-qualifying leaders. But it’s not because the senior doesn’t pummel the ball at the plate.

Sartain, who’s hitting .750 for the season, just doesn’t see many pitches.

In an effort to keep Sartain’s offensive outbursts under control, the Texas A&M signee has been walked around 25 percent of the time through 12 games this season.

She has only 31 at-bats while the second-leading hitter on Trinity Valley’s team has 45.

“It’s just one of those things and part of the game where opposing coaches are trying to manage her ability at the plate,” coach David Rodriguez said. “She’s our leadoff hitter so she’s going to get the most plate appearances, but if there’s a runner or two on, they’re going to walk her.”

Path to success

The Saginaw Chisholm Trail Rangers, in their inaugural season, hold firm to third place in District 6-4A with a record of 18-7 overall and 10-4 in district.

The success is grounded in a team slugging percentage of .596.

Freshman Victoria Quinn leads the team at the plate with a .583 average with 41 runs scored and 40 RBIs. She’s one of five players hitting over .350 and the team batting average is close to .400.

In the circle, sophomore Sierra Hanes is 9-5 on the season with a 3.86 ERA. Those numbers truly hit home considering Chisholm Trail will not graduate its first senior class for two more years.

Games of the week

Tuesday

• All Saints at Trinity Valley, 5 p.m.

• Arlington Bowie vs. Arlington Martin, Workman Field, 6 p.m.

• Saginaw Boswell at Saginaw, 7:30 p.m.

Friday

• Keller at Richland, 5:30 p.m.

• Waco University at Burleson, 5:30 p.m.

• Hurst L.D. Bell at Colleyville Heritage, 7 p.m.

Saturday

• Trinity Valley at Holland Hall, 11 a.m.

• Birdville vs. Saginaw, at Haltom, 1 p.m.

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