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Coyote softball prepared for competitive season

When you have established yourselves as perennial powers in the few short years you’ve been around, expectations are high with each new season.

And so they are once again with the Weatherford College Coyote softball team.

“I think we will be tough offensively throughout our lineup. We have good depth on the bench which was a weakness for us last year,” Head Coach Haylee Williams said. “We have four tough pitchers, which will be valuable in our tough conference.”

The Coyotes are coming off of a 35-16 season that saw them finish 23-9 in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, tying for second. They advanced to the Region V North Tournament, going 2-2.

Key returners in the field for the Coyotes include All-Conference sophomore shortstop Eliza Eberhard (Sugarland, .339 batting average), who had team-highs in doubles (20), hits (56), triples (7), runs batted in (44) and runs scored (47), along with tying for the team lead in walks (18).

“She has a big arm and is able to make any play from the shortstop position,” Williams said. “She has good speed, ability to hit to all fields, steal bags and is a great leader.”

Other top returners include All-Conference utility player Morgan Page (Giddings) and sophomore centerfielder Marisa Cruz (San Angelo). Page led the team with a .389 batting average and a .461 on-base percentage. She also tied for the team lead in home runs with five, belted 16 doubles, drove in 30 runs and scored 39 runs, with a slugging percentage of .624 and an OPS of 1.085.

Cruz tied for the team lead in home runs, had 11 doubles, drove in 24 runs, batted .331, had a .595 slugging percentage, a .426 on-base percentage and a 1.021 OPS.

Page and Cruz were also first and second on the team in getting hit by a pitch at 9 and 6 respectively. They accounted for almost half of the team’s total of 32.

Of Page, Williams said, “Perhaps our best pure hitter, super consistent at the plate.”

Of Cruz, she said, “Great speed, good arm, covers a lot of ground out in center, good hitter.”

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Back in the pitching circle is sophomore Casson Rasmussen (Santa Cruz, California). She was 10-6 with a save last season, along with an earned-run average of 2.79, 48 strikeouts and 49 walks in 118 innings.

“She has gained some velocity, moves the ball exceptionally well, gets a lot of ground balls and has added a good changeup,” Williams said.

Among newcomers who have grabbed her attention, Williams called freshman third baseman Stephanie Jimenez (Huntington Park, California) “a great defender with tremendous pop at the plate, I think she will put up big numbers and possibly be the best third baseman we have had.”

And, as always, the NTJCAC and Region V will be tough. Williams said it could be the toughest it’s been since WC began play in 2012.

“Our region will be strong again. I think [conference] could be the strongest 1-9 with every team being competitive,” she said. “I don’t think we will have any ‘gimme’ games and will have to fight each week in conference play.”

Here is the preseason poll by the league’s coaches:

1. Temple (defending national champion)
2. McLennan
3. Weatherford
5. Grayson
6. Hill
7. Cisco
8. Vernon
9. Ranger


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