A ‘Talented Group’
This might be the year that makes history for the Sherman Lady Bearcats Softball Team.
“Overall, we are looking good,” said Larry Zachary, in his third year coaching at SHS. “We are where we should be. There are a few areas to work on, but we’ll be ready.”
Zachary is confident because he has most of his team returning for the 2012 season including all-star pitcher Kaitlyn Klug who will be playing at St. Edward’s University in the fall. In addition, Zachary has ‘one of the best catchers in north Texas’ in Taylor Van Kirk. He also has Ashley Crockett and Macy Whittington ready at first base.
“We have a talented group; a good group of kids,” said Zachary.
At second base, the Lady Cats will have Mariah Maple; at third, a newcomer, Taylor Bailiff; at shortstop will be Sarah Flores. In the outfield, Zachary has three year starter Sara Baca in right field; newcomer from Denison, Dee Harris, in center field; and Lexi Zachary in left field. Lexi is Zachary’s youngest daughter.
“We also have Laura Estes and Kiera Bruno who will both help us a lot,” said Zachary.
According to Zachary, the Lady Cats will be making a run for the district championship with Sulphur Springs.
“We just got everyone together last week,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better group of kids; they are eager and ready to play.”
Zachary said that the softball program was simply ‘hoping to make the playoffs’ two years ago; and last season, they expected to; and now, the team is looking to the championship.
Zachary believes that the District 13-4A championship will be between the Lady Cats and Sulphur Springs. The final two playoff spots will be between Royse City, Denison, Texas High and Greenville, he added. Mt. Pleasant lost 12 seniors to graduation last season and is regrouping, he noted.
“The last two spots will be a battle,” said Zachary. “We are 6-5 now and have played some quality teams.”
Included in those opponents so far are Lake Dallas, Carrollton Creekview, Crowley, Odessa High, Lubbock Monterey and Midland High.
“We made a few errors, but we learned a lot,” Zachary said.
The Lady Cats went 3-0 at the Argyle Tournament outscoring opponents 13-0; and were 2-4 in the Tournament of Champions (Wichita Falls), which could have easily been 4-2, Zachary said.
And there is still one more tournament in Wylie this weekend that Sherman can conquer.
District 13-4A play begins March 9 at home against Greenville and ends April 20 at Denison. The Lady Cats also play Lindsay, a Class 2A power, in that stretch of games.
Zachary, who has coached softball for 12 seasons, also coached baseball for 10 years. He spent much of that time at Iowa Park, Texas; near Houston. He was ‘blessed’ with three daughters and said he switched to softball to coach them. Now, Lexi is a senior and as his youngest daughter, she represents that last season for his ‘girls.’
“It’s been fun; they have played great,” he smiled.
SHS Baseball 2012 - A 'Dogfight'
Coach Art Senato has seven players who will work into the pitching mix for the Bearcats this season. Senato is in his second year and plans to return to the playoffs where the Bearcats lost in the second round last season.
“So far, we’ve pitched pretty well,” said Senato, a 16 year veteran of the diamond. “We are still battling at positions, but we’ll get there.”
Sherman was 25-11 in 2011 and Senato hopes to improve on that record and get the Bearcats into a battle for the district championship.
“Of course, pitching is most important, but we’ve hit well and manufactured some runs,” said Senato. “I’m pleasantly surprised.”
For the Bearcats, there are three returning pitchers: Chris Gittens (4-0); Blake Liss (4-1) and Cody Hunter (1-2). This trio will be joined by Gus Daniels, Tanner Dunlap, Case Roland and Chris Goosen.
According to Senato, there are two players who will catch this season: Gus Daniels and Will Olsen. At first base, Chris Gittens is set as is Cody Hunter at second. Daniels and Liss will take turns at shortstop while Zach McKinney has third base down.
As for the outfield, Sherman graduated all three starters from 2011.
“It is unsettled,” said Senato. “But we have some games to give some guys a look.”
As for the hitting power of the 2012 Bearcats, Senato is happy to have a majority of his starters back. Gittens hit eight homeruns last season with 28 RBIs and a .370 batting average. Four year starter Daniels hit .380 in 2011 with 14 doubles and 22 RBIs. McKinney was .379 and Olsen was .317 while Liss had a .250 batting average.
District play begins March 5 at Greenville and continue through April 20 at Denison.
Senato is still worried about District 13-4A with Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Texas High, Greenville, Royse City and Denison lining up to play the Bearcats.
“It’s tough top to bottom,” he said. “Everyone has strengths with few weaknesses. We are returning a lot of lettermen, but so are Denison, Royse City, Sulphur Springs and Mt. Pleasant.”
“And Texas High is always good,” he added. “We expect a dog fight.”
Sherman was second in district in 2011 with a record of 9-3.
To help his team prepare for the brutal district schedule, Senato has scheduled some brutal non-district competition. In the Copperas Cove tournament, the Bearcats played Cedar Park, Vista Ridge and Pflugerville Connally; all Top 10 Class 4A team.
“We also play Mesquite Poteet and Duncanville who both went to the state tournament last year,” said Senato.
Sherman will also play Class 5A powerhouses North Forney, Mesquite High, Mesquite Horn, Allen and McKinney Boyd.
“I like our schedule; it’s tough. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play good teams,” said Senato. “I’ll take losses for a shot at the playoffs. Rankings don’t matter; only the playoffs matter.”