Titans softball believe daily dedication will produce deep playoff run
By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Feb. 10, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2012 at 8:11 p.m.
The Titans are not concerning themselves with the past.
They are not looking too far in the future either.
The defending District 30-4A softball champions are focusing on every moment as it comes, hoping it leads toward achieving their collective goal for the season.
"Our goal is a long playoff run," East manager Jody Morgan said. "I'm hoping we're on an uphill slope and we never reach the peak until the playoffs becasuse last year, we reached it way early.
"We (as coaches) stress to them is to take it one day at a time, not even looking at a game. We go one day at a time, one practice at a time and we focus on what we set (out to do) in that practice. Last year, we had the big picture in mind the whole time, and that's why we were climbing so fast. We wanted to get to that goal."
Instead of obtaining the playoff success they desired, Tuloso-Midway ended the Titans' season in the area round.
According to Morgan, the exit came far to soon for a team possessing a wealth of talent, including three individual district award winners.
"When we got to the playoffs, we had girls going at 40 percent," Morgan said.
It was a result of simply being worn out from their 28-7-1 regular season campaign, including a 9-1 run to the district title.
Undoubtably, the Titans want to defend their championship, but, their true intent is to perform at an elite level when the postseason arrives, regardless of the seed they earn in the tournament bracket.
Perhaps nobody is more dedicated to the philosophy than junior Lexie Elkins, who spent six months following last season rehabbing from a torn ACL in her right knee.
"It was very scary not knowing what was going to happen next," the 2011 district co-MVP said. "I just want everybody to try their hardest this year and it will take us where it takes us.
"But if everybody tries hard then we won't be disappointed."
They could even find themselves repeating.
East lost just two players of consequence from last season in all-district first team outfielder A.C. Cruz and second team first baseman Angela Robisheaux, returning a mature roster with four seniors, five juniors and two sophomores - one being the 2011 district co-newcomer of the year, pitcher Alisha Quinterro.
"We are even stronger together as a team," the left-hander said. "We know that we have each other there while we are on the field."
Morgan agrees the team's familiarity and cohesion will be a big advantage.
"They know the standards and the foundation is set, so now we just build upon what you have already in place," the coach said.
Third baseman and 2011 district defensive player of the year Marina Rios is one of the team's pillars.
In addition to her fielding prowess, offensively, Rios recorded 44 hits, 36 RBIs and 42 runs with a .400 batting average as a junior.
Having committed to Galveston College during the offseason, Rios enters the season with a weight off her shoulders, but her approach remains the same.
"It really doesn't change anything," Rios said. "My intensity is still going to be the same. I'm going to play this season like it is going to be my last."
Complimenting the trio are utility player Briana Arguello, outfielders Jodie Garcia and Jennie Johnson and middle infielder Monica Salazar. East also welcomes Julia Stastny, a senior middle infielder, who is currently playing with the playoff-bound Titans basketball team.
"We are waiting for her, but she will be an advantage for us," Morgan said.
The Titans' road back to the playoffs begins Tuesday against Edna at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex at 5 p.m.