West softball prepares to open 2012 season
Feb. 9, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 8, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.
The fact Victoria West softball has more seniors than positions is an indication of just how high the expectations are for the program this spring.
The Warriors return 10 seniors from a 2011 team that agonizingly lost in the area round of the playoffs, including All-district 30-4A performer Sevanah Campos-Reyes. The sprightly shortstop led the team with a .420 batting average.
To help the brood return to the playoffs is first-year head coach Courtney Rigamonti.
"It's been an adjustment on both sides, getting to know each other," Rigamonti said. "It's been really fun in this process because it's a growing process for me and them. We come out here, we have fun, we play softball every day, learn new things and make the game a little better."
Rigamonti is a St. Joseph graduate and former assistant at Victoria East takes over for Rome McNary. Her name is liberally sprinkled throughout the Texas A&M-Kingsville pitching record book.
This is her first head coaching job, but she has been around the game most of her life, and expects to impart that knowledge to her pupils.
West finished fourth in District 30-4A behind Victoria East, Gregory-Portland and Calhoun.
However, 2011 proved that preseason predictions can be as reliable as a pitching machine on a soggy afternoon. Calhoun was expected to win the district, but wound up third. All the Warriors want to do this season is play hard and let the results come.
"The returning starters have to work as leaders and to get the younger ones on board with us, so we can be one big team," Campos-Reyes said.
Some of those so-called younger ones might be juniors Allena Cannady, Karly Rae Hoerig and Deane Gallup. Hoerig was the staff ace with an 18-9 record and a 2.52 ERA in just under 170 innings while Gallup will be the No. 2 starter.
Meanwhile, Cannady led the team in hits, extra base hits and runs scored in 2011. Of the Warriors 212 runs, the then-sophomore accounted for 69 of them with her 46 runs scored and 23 RBI.
Senior Ashley Stockbauer looks to contribute just like the aforementioned juniors. In the offseason the senior set a goal to become a starter for the Warriors this year.
Whether it's at third base or the outfield, Stockbauer appears to have met that goal. Rigamonti said she was one of the most improved players on the team during the offseason.
"We are going to playing better teams," Stockbauer said is one of the biggest differences between the two levels. "It will be nice to have a chance to go to playoffs and not end your season after districts."
Though the program is on its second coach in two years of existence, attitudes and expectations within the program appear to have changed.
During Thursday's waterlogged practice a player thought she put a good swing on the ball because it left the infield. Rigamonti reminded the player the ball would have been a pop-up, then instantly reinforced the constructive criticism with instruction about how to drive a softball. Two swings later, the lesson was not only taken to heart, but taken out on the softball.
"I have very high expectations for me and the girls," Rigamonti said. "We have strong leadership. The girls have great experience, so with that leadership they can push the younger girls to the same expectations I have for all of them."