By Teresa Barbian
Who’s ready for softball? The Anson Lady Tigers are. They had an 8-11 record last year, but Coach Toby Allen is looking to better that record this year. Coach Allen has been coaching the softball team for the last three years. He also coaches the middle school basketball team, films the varsity football games in the fall, and teaches 6th grade science. Coach Todd Lange is the assistant softball coach. He also coaches the girl’s varsity basketball team.
So how do the coaches decide who can be a valuable player on the varsity softball team? There is not a “try-out” for the team according to Coach Allen. The girls practice throughout the year and the kids with the most talent will usually end up on the varsity team. The girls put in a lot of hard work to get the chance to be on the varsity team. This year’s varsity team includes; #2 Sydnee Cozart (FR), #3 Hadley Whitaker (JR), #4 Mollie Hagler (SO), #5 Rebecca Losano (FR), #6 Aaliyah Garza (SO), #7 Kayla McIntire (SR), #12 Hannah Jimenez (SR), #13 Jaycee Overton (SO), #14 Elissa Lozoya (JR), #15 Jalyssa Lozano (FR), #19 Jasmine Soliz (JR), #21 Tesla Hawes (SO), and #33 Hayven Drinnon (SO). The starters change from game to game depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the players as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the other teams.
Hawley is probably Anson’s most formidable team. They have been to state for the last three years. “Hawley is always really fundamentally solid, plays good defense, their kids can always put the ball in play, and they’re good hitters,” says Coach Allen. Another team that is really strong is Haskell. They won the division title last year. Coach Allen feels that last year they let a few games get away from them because of their defense, so defense is a priority this year. Coach Allen has a new camera system that he hooks up to the fence to film the games. He reviews these games to see what the girls need to work on.
Coach Allen is very proud of all the girls, but he’s especially proud of his two hard working seniors Hannah Jimenez and Kayla McIntire. According to Coach Allen, Hannah puts in tons of extra work and she is Anson’s ace pitcher. “She’s not a very vocal kid, but she’s very confident in what she does.” Her confidence helps inspire the lower classmen on the team. He is also impressed with Kayla McIntire’s entire attitude. Coach Allen was worried that her knee injury would cause problems with her position of catcher. Kayla suffered an ACL tear last year that sidelined her softball playing. But she worked exceptionally hard in her rehab and has come back stronger. Coach Allen says that she is very much the vocal leader of the team. “She talks to everybody all the time and has always got something good to say. Our kids look to her for leadership.”
Elissa Lozoya (JR) is Anson’s back-up pitcher and Jalyssa Lozano (FR) is working really hard and Coach Allen sees her as a starting pitcher within a couple of years. The Lady Tigers also have a good group of managers. From hauling equipment to filling water bottles, these girls know softball so they are a big help to Coach Allen. This year’s managers are McKynsee Nash, Janessa Lozano, and Araceli Maldanado. The statistician for the team is Staci Allen.
So, what is Coach Allen’s goal for the team this year? “To get into the district play-offs.” Anson has not been to the play-offs since 2001. Coach Allen says they’re not trying to win district, they’re just trying to get into one of the top four positions, “Our goal is to get in, break the streak.” Coach Allen believes that the Lady Tigers are in one of the toughest districts in Texas for softball. The seven other teams in our district are Hawley, Hamlin, Haskell, Stamford, Eula, Baird, and Albany.
So come out the ball field and support your Lady Tigers. Help cheer them to victory. Games are usually held on Tuesday and Friday nights. The ansontiger.com website lists the upcoming games on the homepage, or you can call the school to find out where you can go to support your Lady Tigers softball team.