When Robbie Hatfield says he's got his deepest pitching staff ever at Texas High, it's saying something.
Hatfield is the only head softball coach the Lady Tigers have had in the program's 24-year history, and he's had a long list of quality pitchers.
Pitching depth is the main reason Hatfield believes the Tigers will improve on last season's fourth-place finish in District 16-5A.
"We've got junior Ashley Wyrick back, and sophomore Lindsey Edgar is up with the varsity this year," Hatfield said. "We've also got sophomore Mabry Smith, who transferred in last February from Redwater and had to play on the junior varsity. We have high hopes for her."
Sophomore Kylee Spriggs is back behind the plate.
Graduation claimed four of the Tigers starters, but the only position that Hatfield seems concerned about is shortstop, where Redwater transfer Courtney Cheek and freshman Alexis Bolden are competing for the starting job. Hitting sensation Chelsea Slider graduated last spring and is now playing collegiately at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
"We'll miss Chelsea, but we've got senior Braley Turner back at third, she's a four-year letterman," Hatfield said. "I think we're set at first with Kaitlyn Cross, and second looks solid with freshman Bailey Groom."
Competing in the outfield are seniors Kinsey Dixon and Reagan Erskine with junior Ryann Williams.
"I really do believe we'll be improved; Turner had a great year at the plate in district," Hatfield said. "All of our returning players have improved a lot."
Hatfield also believes he'll have players on the bench that will contribute.
That list includes senior catcher/pitcher Courtney Anderson, senior infielder Madison Prince, and possibly one or two players from the basketball team. That season ended last Monday.
Hallsville won the 16-5A championship last spring, with Sulphur Springs and Mount Pleasant placing second and third, respectively.
"I'd like to think we'll be right there in the hunt with those three schools," Hatfield said. "I don't know what Hallsville has back, but Sulphur Springs and Mount Pleasant are returning a lot of players. With the mixture we've got and depth inside the circle, I'm really looking forward to this season."
The Tigers scrimmaged crosstown rival Liberty-Eylau twice, and Hatfield was pleased with his team's showing.
Texas High opened its season Thursday in the Sulphur Springs tournament with games against Royse City and Mesquite Poteet. That tournament continues today and Saturday.
Hatfield is being assisted by Melissa Hardy and Lauren Pilgreen.
2017 Texas High Softball Schedule
Date Site-Opponent Time
Today Sulphur Springs tournament TBA
Feb. 18 Sulphur Springs tournament TBA
Feb. 23-25 Allen tournament TBA
Feb. 28 at Arkansas High 5 p.m.
March 2-4 Longview tournament TBA
March 7 x-at Hallsville (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
March 10 x-Pine Tree (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
March 14 x-at Marshall (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
March 21 x-Sulphur Springs (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
March 24 x-at Mt. Pleasant (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
March 28 x-Greenville (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
March 31 x-Hallsville (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
April 4 x-at Pine Tree (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
April 7 x-Marshall (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
April 11 Benton, at OBU (V, JV) 5 p.m.
April 13 x-at Sulphur Springs (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
April 18 x-Mt. Pleasant (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
April 21 x-at Greenville (JV, V) 4:30 p.m.
x-District 16-5A games