Jake Brookshire is HHS softball's assistant coach.

With a stunning 7-run rally in the bottom of the 7th inning last April at Carter Field, the Houston High School softball team beat Mountain Grove 13-12 and secured the program’s first South Central Association championship.

If an abbreviated season of some sort takes place in 2020, the Lady Tigers will go into it with a decidedly youthful roster.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” said second-year head coach Jim Moore. “We’re very young and we’re replacing two four-year lettermen who graduated last year and a center fielder who moved away who was runner-up for conference Player of the Year. We’ve got some pretty big holes to fill, but our young players coming in are talented and hungry.”

Moore figures freshman Aliyah Walker and sophomore Mali Brookshire will see most of the time in the pitching circle, with sophomore Hannah Dzurick also getting in some innings.  While some positions are still up for grabs, Houston’s starting infield will likely feature freshman Katie Chipps catching, junior Riley Scheets at first base, senior Emma Bryant (who missed last season with an injury) at second, freshman Karlee Curtis at shortstop and freshman MacKenzie Bryant at third. The Lady Tigers’ outfield figures to include senior Kameron Hall in right and Dzurick in center, but left field is yet to be determined.

“We have some options there,” Moore said.

Moore was named SCA Coach of the Year in 2019 and has a background as a high school softball head coach that includes four years at Winona and three at Pierce City. He was also an assistant coach at Carthage for four years.

“Our defense and making the plays that have to be made should be one of our strong points,” Moore said. “I also think once we get on the base paths, we’ll do well running the bases. We have a lot of team speed and we’re going to be real aggressive on the base paths and try to put pressure on other teams to make a play.”

Moore hopes hitting will also be a strong point.

“It’s early in the year, so it’s kind of hard to tell at this point,” he said, “but we have a lot of girls who can swing the bat. They’re athletic, they’ve been in the weight room and they’re hitting the ball hard at times.

“I think we’ll be pretty solid in all three aspects of the game. But getting to first base, being able to move runners and then driving them in at key times was kind of a recipe for success last year. We hope to do that again.”

The Lady Tigers competed in the spring for the first time last year, finishing with an overall record of 15-8 (the most wins in team history) and going 4-0 in SCA play. Moore said last season’s breakthrough performance will be well known by opponents.

“This season will be different,” he said, “because we’re no surprise any more. We’ll be the hunted instead of the hunters, but we’re looking forward to the challenge and we think we have a good chance.”

Freshmen

MacKenzie Bryan, 3B, 1B, C

Katie Chipps, C

Karlee Curtis, SS, OF

Rhease Manier, OF, 1B

Maddy Reed, 2B

Maddy Riley, OF

Aliyah Walker, P, OF, SS

Sophomores

Liliana Amick, OF

Mali Brookshire, P, 3B

Hannah Dzurick, OF, P

MacKenzie Holder, C, 1B, OF

Ashleigh Loman, OF, 3B, SS

Juniors

Riley Scheets, 1B

Jayden Stell, SS, OF

Seniors

Emma Bryant, 2B

Kameron Hall, OF

March 23: Bourbon (A)

March 24: Thayer (H)

March 27: Niangua (A)

March 28: Mountain Grove Tournament

March 31: Dora (H)

April 2: Cabool (A)

April 3: Summersville (H)

April 4: Conway Tournament

April 7: Mansfield (H)

April 9: Mountain Grove (A)

April 13: Plato (H)

April 14: Dixon (A)

April 16: Hartville (H)

April 17: Koshkonong (A)

April 20: Cabool (H)

April 21: Eminence (H)

April 23: Steelville (H)

April 27: Alton (A)

April 28: Liberty (H)

May 1: Licking (A)

*(H) – home; (A) – away

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