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Goliad brings lighthearted approach to softball

By BY WILL BROWN - WBROWN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:14 p.m.

Goliad's Stormie Lutz runs down the first base line while St. Joseph's Sarah Sainz prepares to catch a throw by her teammate.

In Goliad, softball practices may be a never-ending cycle of pop culture references and inside jokes, but it works for them.

"This year it's because we have seven seniors, the quality of the team, and our personalities click," said senior catcher Stormie Lutz.

Thursday, the Tigerettes swept their first two games during the Crossroads Classic, before falling to St. Joseph 9-1. Their wins over Yoakum and Victoria East made Jaymie Heibel's team 2-1 on the season.

Heibel is a Goliad graduate in her first year at the helm of her alma mater. She said having seven seniors in her first group means the 2013 team has great leadership.

"They are a very aggressive group," Heibel said. "They have great team chemistry. I know that's what you're supposed to say, but they really have great chemistry. They are not out here going through the motions. They have a willingness to win."

Heibel would know.

The last time Goliad advanced beyond the bi-district round, in 2006, she was the team's junior catcher.

"Our coach is awesome. She is brand new," said senior shortstop Kelsey Kocian, who is affectionately called Chubbs by her teammates.

"She's always encouraging. She has played college ball, so she knows the new game of softball," Lutz interjected.

This new game Lutz references includes slap hitting, small ball and stealing bases.

In Goliad's 8-7 win against East, it stole eight bases. Five Tigerette runs were scored after a stolen base.

Senior shortstop Briana Flores said the team is led by a series of mottos. Some are simple like their "Just play catch" philosophy toward defense.

Heibel encourages some girls to play a song in their head while at the plate to relax. Other mottos, while not printable, foster Tigerette togetherness.

"We've all become best friends," said Flores, the one who originated Kocian's nickname three years ago. "We all hang out with everything we do. No one messes with our clique."

The tongue-in-cheek clique Flores references is the Class of 2013, most of whom have played softball together since middle school.

It helped Goliad qualify for the playoffs in 2010 and last year. However, they were bounced in the bi-district round on both occasions.

And they want more.

Lutz said this week's tournament will help her team gain experience on the way to those lofty pursuits.

One such lesson may be finishing off games. Against East, Goliad led 6-0 and 7-3, but allowed the Titans to move the winning run into scoring position in the final inning.

"Scoring at the beginning of the game isn't enough," Heibel said. "You have to score throughout the game. Of course, if you score at the beginning, it takes the pressure off the defense, so you can relax in the end."

Once that end is reached, the inside jokes and light-hearted approach toward the game begins again.

This was on display after the East victory. Some girls wore sneakers out the dugout, others wore Crocs. But Kristian Chance, who picked up the win, waltzed out in cowboy boots.

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