ironman water polo Guyer stepping onto 6A diamond
After a two year absence, the Guyer softball team is stepping up a weight class by returning to the state’s largest classification now 6A.
Guyer was successful in its previous stint, making the playoffs both times but ultimately falling to state powerhouses from the “district of doom,” featuring schools from the Plano and Lewisville school districts.
This year, the Lady Wildcats’ future looks eerily similar, but coach Keith Medford says his team is better prepared for what awaits thanks to a host of returning players at key positions.
“On paper, we’ve got a bunch of kids that started when they were freshmen, and another thing we have is two seniors who are four year starters, which is very similar to the 2010 group in that respect,” Medford said, comparing this year’s squad to his 2010 team that went to the 4A state tournament. “We welcome that challenge. Anytime you start talking about 2010, those are some huge shoes to fill, and these kids embrace that. I’ve thrown that on them a little bit. They’ve embraced that, and they want that. Their goal is to do what that group did.”
Those are some lofty expectations for Guyer, which lost to eventual 4A champ Aledo in the third round of the postseason a year ago, but the pieces are in place for a successful season.
Guyer returns two four year starters and a pair of West Texas A signees in outfielder and pitcher , who started as a freshman at Justin Northwest and was the Lady Wildcats’ No. 1 pitcher last season.
Add to that five juniors who started as freshmen and junior catcher Maddie Green, who missed last season after being ruled ineligible by the UIL for transferring for athletic purposes,
and the Lady Wildcats are loaded with experience.
“I definitely think Shayne and Maddie are a great [battery],” said Hodapp, who was second only to Starkey with a .421 batting average last year. “Our left side of the field is really strong, especially [sophomore shortstop] Avery [Williams]. For being so young, she has great talent. Our outfield covers a lot of ground. I think we’re a really solid team all around this year.”
Like with any softball team, success starts in the pitching circle, and Medford said he is excited to see Starkey pitch with another year of experience and another offseason of work under her belt.
Starkey was named the District 5 4A utility player of the year last season after hitting .469 with 47 RBIs, which both led the team. She also went 19 6 with a 3.22 ERA, and she and Medford said she improved as a pitcher in the offseason.
“I’ve come a long way since last year,” Starkey said. “I changed pitching coaches, and I’ve been more successful moving around the plate and my velocity has gone up.”
Added Medford: “I think she’s evolved as a pitcher. As they get older, the good ones keep working and get one more pitch or get more velocity. I think she’s done that. The good ones don’t ever rest. They always try to get better. She works tirelessly to get better at her position.”
When asked what the strength of Medford’s team is heading into the season, which begins at a loaded Bryan College Station Tournament today, he didn’t have a definite answer, and he’s OK with that.
“It’s hard to pinpoint, and I think that’s the sign of a pretty good team,” Medford said. “I think we’re pretty well rounded. I think we have some speed, some power and we have not just Shayne but we have a pitching staff that can handle teams and series in the playoffs. Our defense is always something we can hang our hat on.