After winning a state championship one year ago, which was their second state title in five years, the Huffman Hargrave Falcons softball team looked like a dominant force early in the season before the break forced by the coronavirus pandemic. They finished the pre-district slate very strong with a run that included a win over Santa Fe, who at the time was No. 3 in the state 5A rankings. The Falcons are in 4A.
Now, the Falcons face the unknown about the future of their season.
They were supposed to start district play this past week against Splendora who recently beat Atascocita soundly, but now everything has been put on hold.
Nevertheless, Falcons head coach Garrett Gates liked many of the things he saw in the games prior to the break.
“We definitely had the senior leadership, definitely had the experience; those things were working for us,” Gates said.
Gates said he also likes his team’s defense and pitching in particular. Their pitching has been led in large part by three players who were in the state tournament a year ago; senior Katy Janes, junior Christin Haygood and sophomore Kylen Padgett.
However, the one thing Gates was hoping his team would improve on was their hitting.
“In my eyes, we weren’t hitting very well, we weren’t hitting very consistent,” Gates said, but he noted that it often happens at the start of a season.
He said that right before the coronavirus hit and play stopped, the team was starting to swing better, however.
The Falcons have had really good play from not just the experienced Janes, but from stalwart underclass ladies as well.
“Christin Haygood has been hitting the ball really well,” Gates said, noting that she has six home runs this year. “We also have Hagen Pike, who is playing third base ... playing very well for us.”
He also praised junior Lindsey Gonzalez, who has been a great defensive force at shortstop.
Though play has stopped temporarily, Gates emphasized to his team that getting better does not.
“I’ve communicated with my girls that we can’t have practices, team practices, but I strongly encourage them to go out and practice on their own; keep hitting, keep throwing, keep lifting, keep running,” Gates said.