A year ago, the Houston Lady Tigers softball team was fighting for the right to keep its program alive.
A winning season later and with approval from the school board to make softball a permanent sport, the Lady Tigers are hoping to build a winning tradition.
Many of the key pieces return from last year’s team that went 6-3 in just the second year of softball at Houston. Second-year coach Boulder McKinney said he set an offseason goal of beating the teams on the Lady Tigers’ schedule that defeated them in 2008. But because Plato does not have a team this season, that leaves just one opponent that beat Houston last season.
The Lady Tigers have the opportunity to avenge a 13-4 loss to Eminence in late April. Retribution for the two losses to Plato will have to wait at least one more year.
“We want to build on what we were able to accomplish last year,” McKinney said.
The Lady Tigers appear to have the players to do it.
Houston returns six starters, including speedy leadoff hitter Bethany Korte and shortstop Shelbi Moore. Korte led the team in runs, steals and on-base percentage last year, and Moore was first in batting average and second in RBIs.
Also back are catcher Paula Chernowsky, who started as a freshman, first baseman Lyndsey Tarrants, infielder Tory Burgess and left fielder Stephanie Moseley. Tarrants led the team in runs batted in and is one of three team captains with Moseley and Korte.
Burgess shifts from second base to third on the infield. Jessica Herndon takes over at second.
In the outfield, Korte moves from left to center field. Moseley takes over in left and freshman Carmen Floyd will start in right.
On the mound, junior Hannah Pounds takes over for departed staff ace Amber Postlewait. McKinney said Pounds has improved her accuracy and has a strong change-up and movement with her pitches.
“Hannah didn’t start because we had a senior pitcher last year, but I feel confident in what she can do,” McKinney said. “She’s been pitching a long time.”
The upcoming campaign, which starts today (Thursday) with a home game against Hartville, is the final spring season for the Lady Tigers. They will play in the fall next year, allowing them to compete in conference and district play.
Unfortunately for McKinney, the move also will mean the end of his softball coaching career. The fall season will interfere with his assistant football coaching duties, which he plans to keep.
“When I first began coaching, I didn’t know a whole lot about fastpitch softball and wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into,” McKinney said. “But I’m going to miss it more than I thought I would – just being around the girls and developing that player-coach relationship.”