Lady Warriors feasting on district foes with both pitching and offense

03/17/2014 4:50 PM

03/17/2014 4:52 PM

Morgan Watson sets the table for the Martin offense. So it’s no wonder the Lady Warriors’ star lead-off hitter sometimes works up an appetite.

Watson, a senior second baseman, snacked on a pickle in the dugout in the early innings of the Martin softball team’s 12-0 victory against Lamar in a midday game on the Tuesday of spring break. The triumph improved the Lady Warriors’ district-leading record to 5-0.

Packing a punch at the plate probably makes one hungry. Watson has triggered Martin’s potent offense by batting .439 for the season and an eye-popping .537 in District 3-5A play. And the most impressive stat might be her team-leading 10 home runs. She belted three round-trippers all of last season. As a senior, she’s had three in a single game.

“I just want to get on base and if runners are on, move runners,” Watson said. “I hit the ball hard but I’m not focused on hitting home runs.”

Watson has batted lead-off all four years and consistently gotten on base during her whole run on varsity, said coach Cathy Rudy. The best part of Watson’s game might be that she embodies the every at-bat, every-inning tenacity Rudy wants to see out of her entire team.

“I told them we need to get to the point where you put your best foot forward every pitch every inning, every at-bat instead of slowly working it in,” Rudy said.

Recently against rival Weatherford (the team that Martin had to settle for a district co-championship with last season) the Lady Warriors put up several runs early and fought to fend off the Lady Roos on the road.

“We know we need to keep working and getting better, because that’s what they’re going to keep doing,” Rudy said.

What makes Martin better than last season is its four-person pitching rotation. The staff includes two seniors, a junior in Kylie Dobbins, who was the district’s pitcher of the year in 2013, and Lacy Mann, a talented freshman.

“When we start making good plays, I feel no pressure when I’m pitching,” said Dobbins, who pitched a complete-game shutout against Lamar.

Having four quality hurlers makes it a tall task for opponents to get a handle on what to expect against the Lady Warriors. “This is the first year I’ve had more than two pitchers,” Rudy said. “Four pitchers has definitely been better because we’ve been able to work them all in. Nobody really knows who we’re going to throw. They don’t really know what to work on because we have so many girls with different speed and different strengths.”

Watson has particularly been impressed with Mann, who has excelled despite being in her first season on varsity. “Our freshman that we have this year, she came in and was so good that’s exactly what we need,” Watson said.

Watson and her teammates are hungry for an outright district title and a deep playoff run. But it’s not time for the squad to start salivating over the possibilities that the postseason has in store. Rudy’s encouraged by what she’s seen up to this point but still would like to see the Lady Warriors continue to improve. A point of emphasis for the coach continues to be aggressive base running. She likes to have swift players like Watson stealing bases when the opportunity arises.

With all of her players, the coach wants to see them looking to get an extra base, turning long singles into doubles and so on. “That’s what good teams do: extend plays and force the other team to make a really difficult play,” Rudy said.

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