Jagaurs' three softball seniors ready to put their stamp on program
By BY Thomas R. Martinez
Jan. 26, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 25, 2011 at 7:26 p.m.
Oh so close.
Those three words reflect the 2010 University of Houston-Victoria softball team.
Eventual national champion Simon-Fraser eliminated the Jaguars from nationals contention at the Association of Independent Institutions Conference Championship in a 1-0 thriller at UHV's home, Burdge Field. Earlier in the tournament, the Jaguars beat Simon-Fraser 3-1.
Yeah, oh so close.
This year, the 19th-ranked Jaguars return several key players along with a bevy of talented freshmen and sophomores, hoping to make another deep run into the postseason.
That bevy of talented newcomers will be counted upon to shore up the offense, a key weakness for the Jaguars last year.
"We just have a variety of batters who have a lot of strength in the middle of the lineup," said first baseman Courtney Pettit, one of three co-captains. "We have a lot speed at the top and bottom of the order. I just feel like we have a lot to bring to the table this year. Where one might be lacking the person behind can pick her up."
The team worked during the fall practice to learn each other to gel in such a short time during fall practice.
"It was a little rough in the beginning, but as we had more games and time with each other, we gelled pretty well," said co-captain Araceli Galindo, second baseman. "We became very cohesive and had good chemistry on and off the field."
The new faces bring much needed competition, Galindo said.
"There's no set spots on the field. So every day at practice, you have to take advantage of it and work your hardest and show coach you're giving it all you got."
Does the oh-so-close finish of last season give the team confidence?
"Yeah, we're just going to go out there and work hard like last year, and get in the same position," said the third co-captain, stalwart third baseman Allison Hinton.
The Victoria Advocate sat down on a recent cool, blustery day to talk about the season with the three co-captains.
Victoria Advocate: What are the expectations for this season?
Courtney Pettit: Go to nationals.
Araceli Galindo: We expect to do just as good or better than last year.
What would be a disappointing season?
Alison Hinton: Not to get to the conference tournament. Not making it as far as we did last year. Not doing as well.
CP: We play a lot of tough teams, so the ones that aren't as tough, we should take advantage and win those so when it comes to the tough games, we have leeway. But we want to win all of them.
What did you learn in the fall season?
AH: We have a good team. We have a lot of pitchers that can go out and be strong. Offensively, we have better bats than we did last year that can pick us up in the bottom of the lineup.
What's it mean to you to be co-captains and the seniors on the team?
CP: I think it's a great experience to be captains with these two girls. I think we're all great leaders on and off the field. We have potential to make this team really good. We have a lot of freshman coming in, so we get to guide them show them how we want to represent our team.
AG: I couldn't ask for two better players to be along with me as co-captains. I feel as if we've brought this team a really long way considering we have freshman and sophomores we haven't had before. We've shown them the ropes on how to play college ball.
AH: I think we've all done a great job of leading this team through the fall season on and off the field, just working hard in the classroom and everything else. I think this is going to be a good year.
What are your personal expectations?
CP: I'd like to do really good hitting and score a lot of runs. Lots of RBIs and some home runs here and there.
AG: I expect the same as well. I need to better my batting average and work on my baserunning and get some steals.
AH: I just want to get the job done when it's my turn, help my teammates in the situations I need to.
You talk about speed. How will that change the game?
AH: We'll get more stolen bases. And take advantage of the mistakes the other teams make.
AG: We'll have smarter baserunning this year.
The UHV program has reached great heights in its short history. How do you continue that tradition?
AG: All three of us enjoy it. If we didn't have the tradition, we'd want to get better. We want to be as good or better than teams before.
CP: We knew coming in that it was a small school. We don't have our own conference. I feel like people look at us like we're not that good because we're small. But then again, when we go out on the field and show them, they're like 'Woah.' I just want to keep that tradition alive.
How do you plan on leading the team this year?
CP: I try to do what's best for the team. I try to be loud on the field. When people get down, I try to pick them up. I try to lead by example a lot - working hard on the field and in the classroom. People see that and want to work hard, too.
AG: I want them to see how we act on the field and in the class and be expected to act the same way we are. That way the whole team can be leaders instead of just a couple of leaders.
AH: Working hard, staying positive, and picking each of my teammates up whenever they're down. Just working hard.
About two weeks before opening day, how do you feel?
CP: I feel really good. I think ...
AH: Happy. Sad, because it's our last year.
AG: We're ready to show everyone what we've been working on. It's kind of like antsy, excited, anxious.
CP:It's all going to come together.
Courtney, your season last year ended in the conference tournament with an injury. Are you ready to go?
CP: Yes. I had to do these little exercises with a little squigee ball to get the strength back and range of motion. I don't think you realize how important your fingers are until you break one.
Araceli, you're moving back to your natural position, second base. How does that feel?
AG: It feels great. I love that position, I'm real confident there. It feels like I'm back home again.
Allison, last year, the coach talked about your defense. Do you pride yourself on that?
AG: It's exciting to know that people notice that. I'm just ready to get out there and hopefully do the same as I did last year.
Sum up your team in one word:
CP: I just think we're fun and we're a talented team, so that goes good together.
Describe coach Keri Lambeth in one word:
CP: That's perfect. We don't need to add on to that.
What's it like to have two pioneers of the program, like Brittany Faas and Lindsey Ferguson, as coaches?
AG: Both Ferg and B-Faas have helped us out a lot, because they've been here since the program has started. They show us their perspective and how they felt when they played. And for us not to take advantage of what we have-type thing.
CP: They're always pushing us.
AH: They always remind us of where we started and where we are now, and to remember that.
CP: I'm excited to get on the field and see how far we can go. I think we have a great team. It's going to be fun.
AG: Kind of a bittersweet beginning to the last year of softball for us. Excited, I'm sad, but more importantly, I'm ready to get on the field and show everyone what our team has.
AH: I'm just ready to get out there and play, and hopefully go to nationals.