Buccaneers set focus on national tournament berth
With seven sophomores, Blinn’s sights aimed towards St. George, Utah
The Blinn College softball team is ready to return to the field.
Coming off a 2013 season in which it saw its four-year streak of qualifying for the NJCAA Division I Softball National Championships end, the Buccaneers are ready to start a new streak. It all begins on the road Friday at the Galveston College Invitational. The Bucs open their season against 13th-ranked Navarro at 9 a.m.
“We’re not going to downgrade our expectations,” coach Rick Church said. “Our expectations every year are to win the Region XIV South Zone, win the regional tournament and go compete at nationals.”
The Bucs will try to get back to the national tournament with seven sophomores and a slew of freshmen who have Church excited about the possibilities.
“We have a lot more depth this year than last year,” he said. “Some of these freshmen can play multiple positions.”
Sophomores set sights back to Utah
Of those seven sophomores, four received extensive playing time in 2013.
Brenham product Sydney Wellmann returns to run the defense at first base and provide a powerful bat in the lineup. Breaking in as a freshman, Wellmann batted .322 with 29 hits – 12 for extra bases – 16 runs scored and 25 RBI. On defense, she carried a .980 fielding percentage
“She’s as solid as they come defensively,” Church said.
Peyton Webb looks to build off a freshman campaign in which she had a .424 on-base percentage while knocking 60 hits and 42 RBI – both near team-bests – during the season.
“It’s going to be good to have Peyton back at third base,” Church said. “She gives us good RBI production in the middle of the lineup.
“With Peyton and Sydney back in the infield that’s going to help our freshmen a lot learning our system.”
With anchors at the corner infield positions, Taylor Guidry returns to anchor an outfield with much more depth this season. Guidry had just one error in 53 putout attempts, good for a .981 fielding percentage, and her bat helped the Bucs spark their late-season run. She had a .309 batting average with 47 hits, two triples and 27 RBI.
Makinsey Yoes returns at catcher, where she played in 13 games as a freshman. Church said Yoes will work hard to have a significant contribution this season.
Marissa Purcell from Galena Park will see action at second base. Allie Piro, a transfer from Midwestern State can provide help in both the infield and outfield, and Allie Artz can play second base while adding speed to the lineup.
Freshmen look to be impact players
Church and assistant coach Jami Ingram brought in a freshmen class that provides the Bucs with a lot of athleticism and depth across the field. Carla Noel of Kingsville and Delilah Pacheco can play either of the middle infield positions, and Avery Mullendore of Fort Worth can play second base or in the outfield. Sara Mason of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, and Faith Dixon of McKinney will see time behind the plate.
“This freshmen class has a lot of good athletes -- we’ve got a good combination of power, speed, we’ve got some lefty slappers,” Church said. “So we have a lot of possibilities.”
It’s Blinn’s pitching depth that could be the team’s biggest strength this season.
“The contrast is what they bring that we can use to match-up against our opponents,” he said. “They all have three or four pitches they can throw, and each one of them has a different dominant pitch. We can throw a lot of different things at our opponents.”
With sophomore leadership, depth and offensive potential, the Bucs are prepared to begin their national tournament quest.
“With a roster of 19 players, hopefully we can find the right combination on the field to accomplish our goals,” he said.
(Story and photo courtesy: Matt Keyser, Blinn Information)