The fall softball season doesn’t count in the overall standings, but each fall campaign brings with it new challenges and new goals.
For the Kilgore College softball team, the fall season — which opens Saturday — is all about embracing change.
“Our main focus will be coaching up the freshmen. Were going to have a whole new infield,” veteran head coach Leslie Messina said. “Really, we’re just focusing on getting the freshman jitters out of them, getting them all on the same page and getting them to not act like freshmen.”
Kilgore will host the KC Travel Ball Round Robin on Saturday, with Kilgore facing the Athletics at 11 a.m., TX Elite at 3 p.m. and TSF Elite at 5 p.m.
The Rangers finished 23-26 during the fall (12-16 in conference play) and earned a trip to the conference tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Messina brings back just three position players and one pitcher from that squad, although KC did pick up a key transfer on the infield in Brooke Arnold (McLennan Community College).
Back for the Rangers are Brooke Goynes of Longview, along with Lauren Corley and Nicole King. Goynes hit .312 a year ago with two home runs, five doubles, two triples, 11 RBI and 32 runs scored. She was good on 34 of 36 stolen base attempts.
Corley was a .298 hitter in the spring with three doubles, 13 RBI and 12 runs, and King hit .326 with five home runs, 14 doubles, a triple, 24 RBI and 24 runs scored.
Arnold hit .378 at McLennan last spring with three home runs, eight doubles, four triples and 20 RBI.
“We should have an outstanding pitching staff, with Mattie McQuary leading the way,” Messina said. “She has put in a ton of work, and she’s added a couple of pitches — a couple of weapons — to her arsenal.”
McQuary was 14-9 in the circle last spring with a 3.25 earned run average, 139 strikeouts and 69 walks in 154.2 innings.
Freshmen Jenna Lewis and Dani Moreno will round out the pitching staff, and they — along with shortstop Rachel Thomas — have turned heads in KC camp so far this fall.
“Those are the ones who have really showed out for us so far,” Messina said. “We’re looking for more kids to step up as the fall progresses.”
Kilgore will host the KC Round Robin on Sept. 14, host Hill College on Sept. 25, visit UT Tyler on Sept. 28 and host LSU Alexandria and Bossier Parish on Oct. 5 and Jarvis Christian and TX Glory FTW on Oct. 6 before closing out the fall season with road treks to Louisiana-Monroe (Oct. 13), Ouachita Baptist (Oct. 18) and Houston Baptist (Oct. 26).