The Grapevine softball team struggled to get things going last season, especially in the non-district schedule, but a strong second half of district and the emergence of a couple of stand-out players has coach Steve Bottoms and the Lady Mustangs softball team optimistic about next season.
One such player is Ercilia Mendoza, Grapevine's center fielder and an all-district selection last season.
Bottoms said the Grapevine senior brings a lot to the team and said he is expecting big things from her.
“She was a our leadoff hitter last year, and she did a really good job of holding the outfield together,” Bottoms said. “We had her and some JV players out there, and it was a lot of inexperience. She was the glue that held our outfield together ... she brought of maturity and experience to the table and really helped out the younger players.”
Bottoms said he plans to have Mendoza continue to work on consistency throughout the off-season and said that he will rely on her for leadership next season.
“She and a couple of other players have a whole lot of varsity experience,” Bottoms said. “I will rely on her a lot to continue do what she has done and provide leadership to any new players that are coming up. She has done a great job for us.”
Mendoza said her major objective is to bring a positive attitude to the team and said
“I want us to have a family-type feeling,” Mendoza said. “I want us to have a place to be where we can all be and work together. When we start working as a team, we start winning.”
Mendoza said she was very pleased with how her team rebounded from a rough start last season and said she has great hopes for this coming campaign.
“This past season was a lot better than I expected,” Mendoza said. “I knew it was going to be rough, but the turn-around that we made through the middle of the season was great. Just starting to win against teams that nobody thought we could be was just amazing.”
Mendoza said that her goals for next year are to be more communicative with her fellow outfielders, and said to have success next season, it will take one thing in particular.
“We have to work harder in practice,” Mendoza said. “Throughout the season, it seems that we lose our motivation for practice. In the game, we go hard, but in practice, I think we should go harder.”