The 2015 Houston High School softball team returns several experienced players. But only one will play the same position this year.
Call it the Lady Tiger shuffle.
Six full-time and one part-time starters are part of coach Brent Hall’s latest team. Only catcher Stephani Crewse is staying put, though.
“Practices have been a lot different,” Hall said. “We’ve been going 2 1/2 to 3 hours everyday and breaking things down to the fundamental things.”
The shuffling begins with the Lady Tigers’ most veteran player. Senior Autumn Walker, a three-year starter at second base and the last remaining player from the 2012 district championship team, is moving to shortstop.
Kaitlyn Root moves from left field to first base.
Taylor Chipps, a designated hitter last year as a freshman, will start at second.
Abbey Slocum goes from right field to third base.
Shelby Cremer, who cracked the starting lineup late last year before a season-ending injury, slides from left field to center field.
And the final move is Tori McCloud, who started last year in center. She is one of two pitching options for HHS.
Although not every move was anticipated until third baseman Tommi Franklin transferred last week, Hall knew after last season that Walker would anchor the team’s defense at shortstop.
“Autumn is as good of a second baseman as there is around,” Hall said. “There are some things different at shortstop. I assume she will do fine in that spot.”
Freshman transfer Emily Roberts gives Hall a second pitching option behind McCloud. Sophomores Carly Crawford and Madison Lawson as well as senior Aryanna Morgan are candidates to play in the outfield.
Offensively, Hall said he is unsure who will land where. He said he would like Walker, who batted .345 with a .515 on-base percentage last season, to lead off. She was second on the team with 32 runs scored from that spot last year.
The Nos. 2-6 spots in the lineup will be some mix of Crewse, McCloud, Slocum, Root and Chipps. McCloud led HHS with 14 stolen bases last season, and she and Crewse batted over .370.
Hall said the bottom of the lineup will be key in the team’s offensive production.
“If we can get them to bunt, get on base and turn the lineup over to our more experienced hitters, we should be okay,” he said.
Hall, who has finished .500 or better in his three seasons leading the softball program, said he is unsure what lies ahead for this year’s team. He said he has seen great improvements since practices began Aug. 3.
“It’s hard to tell. We’re very athletic and very capable,” he said. “If everyone gets a little more comfortable and continues to improve, we can win our fair share of games.”
Aug. 27 – Stoutland, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 29 – Houston Invitational
Sept.. 1 – at Liberty, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 3 – at Cuba, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 8 – Salem, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 10 – Laquey, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 11 – Walnut Grove Tourn.
Sept.. 14 – Seymour, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 15 – Norwood, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 18 – Mansfield, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 19 – St. James Tourn.
Sept.. 22 – Hartville, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 24 – at Ava, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 29 – at Thayer, 4:30 p.m.
Sept.. 30 – Newburg, 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 – Willow Springs, 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 – at Bakersfield, 4:30 p.m.