With five players starting on varsity for the first time and a shortened pre-season, the Northwest softball team is trying to pick up ground early in district play. After a tough 12-9 loss to Keller in the district opener, Northwest beat Fossil Ridge in a strong 9-1 showing last Wednesday at home.
“The Keller game was tough because we were ahead going into the sixth,” said head coach Tanya Morrow. “We do a good job in the middle, but we start off a little slow and we need to work on playing seven full innings.”
Three seniors have led the team with strong bats this season.
“Brianna Barnhill and Hayley Rhine have really stepped up and come through offensively,” Morrow said. “Amanda Lockhart is our nine-hole. She’s done a good job putting the ball in play and with RBIs.”
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Offense has been the Lady Texans’ strength this season.
“We hit the ball hard,” said Morrow. “It is nice when you get a lot of runs and make the other team fight tooth and nail to beat us.”
With a mix in ages and experience, Morrow is happy to have some key players returning.
“It is nice having our battery back,” she said. “Catherine Totty is the pitcher and Sydnee Hinkle is our catcher. They both played together as sophomores last year and play well together.”
Working together as a cohesive unit doesn’t always come easily, but there is strong leadership from the seniors.
“Katie Taylor and Madison Rinehart do a great job of keeping the dugout in line and pushing the defense to be better each game,” Morrow said. “They all do a good job of pushing each other.”
Teamwork is something Morrow emphasizes in practices and games.
“We have a motto, ‘Individually we are drops; together we reign,’” she said. “We have the kids make personal goals and goals for what they can do to help the team. We talk a lot about the team being first. We keep building on that, and make it our focus and we will go far.”
Far is indeed where Morrow has her sights set.
“A lot can happen to get to the playoffs. We were tied for fourth in our district last year and had to win a tiebreaker against (Keller) Timber Creek to go on. That seeded us against number-one Weatherford, so we faced a lot of adversity to get there and we had a great season,” she said. “When you beat the teams you are supposed to beat and get into the playoffs, that’s where the magic happens.”
That does not mean that victories over some district rivals would be less sweet in the meantime.
“We focus on one game at a time but sometimes you have to look ahead at some of the tougher games,” Morrow said. “Timber Creek is always a high-intensity game and rivalry. We split games with them last season, and we had that tiebreaker for playoffs, so they will be big games.
Tuesday night the Lady Texans will face Southlake Carroll in another rival matchup. The game falls on Alumni Night.
“We lost to them twice last year, so we would like to win this time,” said Morrow.
Northwest plays Carroll at 7 p.m. at home.