Our time now
|Thursday, February 17, 2011
Photo by Victor Tapia
Lady Farmer Stephanie Helmberger returns for
her junior season in the 2011 campaign in
Team looks to snap playoff drought in 2011 season
By David Jenkins
The Lady Farmers just missed out on qualifying for the Class 3A Region II playoffs the last two seasons.
Last year they were eliminated by Community in a one-game playoff, after each finished the district season tied for third at 5-5.
They’ll look to get over that hump during the 2011 campaign, and the return of 12 players who saw time in the starting line up should play a big factor in making that happen.
First-year head coach Cortney Smith said, “Last season they had a tough ending to their season, losing the tie-breaker game to Community. Nonetheless, we only lost two seniors (Shelby Eaves and Tara McGuire) and have plenty of seasoned players returning. We also have a lot of experienced and talented athletes coming into softball this year.”
Back are infielders Katy Adamson, Kristen and Stephanie Helmberger, outfielders Jordan Buford, Maranda Craddock, Emily Howell, Ashley Mackey, Alex Segovia, Magan Green and Brittany Varner, pitchers Taylor Eaves and Rachel Harrison, who was also an outfielder.
Smith said, “I believe we will have a talented team that will compete with all the top teams in (Class) 3A. They have been working hard in the offseason and are looking very strong going into our first scrimmage (last weekend).”
Gone are 2010’s District 13-3A Catcher of the Year Eaves and first-team shortstop McGuire.
Harrison returns to the pitching circle and will be joined by 2010 13-3A Freshman of the Year (Taylor) Eaves.
For the first time in school history the Lady Farmers will have a junior varsity team, consisting of 16 players.
Smith said, “I believe they (the JV players) will all be vital to the success of the Farmersville softball program. It gets your athletes game experience and prepares them for varsity. We are excited that we will have a JV team for the first time.”
Those coming back (on varsity) will be tested once again in a highly competitive 11-3A, which features first-year varsity program Frisco Lone Star, Prosper (formerly of 9-3A), and old 13-3A foes Lovejoy, Community and state-ranked Princeton, which was picked third in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 3A preseason Top 10.
Smith said, “We are in a tough district. We have four teams (Lovejoy, Princeton, Community and Prosper) that went multiple rounds in the 2010 softball playoffs last year, and we are all contending for three spots (this year). I look forward to seeing our athletes compete against top softball teams.”
The Lady Farmers opened the predistrict season Feb. 15 with Bells and travel to compete Thursday through Saturday in the Whitesboro Tournament.
They will compete in Pool 2, which features themselves, Gainesville, Tom Bean and Lake Worth.
Tourney play kicks off 10:15 a.m. Thursday against Gainesville and 12:45 p.m. the same day versus Lake Worth.
The following day they take on Tom Bean at 11:30 a.m.
Also competing in the tourney are 11-3A opponents Community and Frisco Lone Star, Whitesboro, Bells, Pottsboro, Denison, No. 5 state-ranked Blue Ridge (TGCA 1A preseason Top 10), Collinsville, Denison JV, Aubrey, Van Alstyne and Callisburg.
Predistrict games remaining are at Bells (Feb. 22), with Van Alstyne (Feb. 25), at Bonham (March 1) and Whitesboro (March 8 for varsity only), and versus Anna (March 11).
The Lady Farmers will also travel to partake in the Van Alstyne Tournament, slated for March 10 and 12.
Smith said, “The schedule is challenging and we will see teams multiple times, but it was set up that way to mimic how district play is set up. We will see teams from our district two or three times, and we have to be ready to beat them every time we go against them.”
The 11-3A season commences March 15 with Community. That’s followed by game versus Lovejoy (March 18), at Princeton (March 22), against Prosper (March 25) and at Frisco Lone Star (March 29 for varsity only at 6 p.m.).
They open the second half April 1 at Community. Other contests are at Lovejoy (April 5), with Princeton (April 8), at Prosper (April 12) and versus Frisco Lone Star (April 15 for varsity only at 6 p.m. on senior night).
District games begin at 5 p.m. for JV and varsity at 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
Notes: Smith took over at the beginning of the school year for Jennifer Henry, who took an assistant softball coaching job at Anna.
The new head coach played college ball at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She started out as a teacher and coach at Farmersville in the 2009-2010 school year. In addition, she is the junior-high school head cross country coach and head junior high volleyball coach.
Smith said, “It was a great honor to be promoted to the head softball coach. The athletes at Farmersville are amazing on the field and in the classroom. It is a pleasure to get to coach athletes of this caliber, and I look forward to watching their success this season.”
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