PORT ARTHUR —
Softball season is well under way and Port Arthur Memorial, Port Neches-Groves and Nederland all have eyes on the playoffs.
Nederland Coach Will Mallett said his Lady Bulldogs always expect to reach the postseason, so 2014 is no different.
“At Nederland, in all sports, we expect success,” Mallett said. “You just have to be willing to work. We want to be No. 1 in all phases. We want to finish first in the district and always be the best team out there.”
Nederland saw its season end last year at the hands of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Lady Bears. Mallett expects District 20-4A to once again be one of the state’s toughest districts.
“LC-M is always a great team and Vidor is always tough,” Mallett said. “The biggest game each year is always the PN-G game. That is such a huge rivalry. The Lady Indians beat us three times last year and on paper we still looked like the better team on paper. Other teams in our district have improved, so I am expecting a great battle each night.”
Speaking of PN-G, the Lady Indians are coming together under the direction of a new coach.
Jessica Lemoine is the new head Lady Indian and she brings a lot of experience around the softball diamond. She was a star catcher at Bridge City before playing at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. She coached last year at Gilmer.
“On the mound, we have a great right handed/left handed combo of Maci Dean and Shelby Valentine,” Lemoine said. “Taylor Thompson is in charge of our outfield and Bailey Crorey should really come into her own as a freshman and be a constant stable in our lineup.”
Lemoine also expects a heated 20-4A race that could end with the Lady Indians once again the playoffs.
“Playoffs are always expected at The Reservation in every sport,” Lemoine added. “We hope to keep the tradition going in softball.”
Memorial has not had the success in softball both Nederland and PN-G have seen over the years. That does not mean coach Carkina Griffith does not have the same expectations.
“We have a great group of kids this year,” Griffith said. “We are expecting great leadership from our shortstop, Jasmine Veneges. She is a three-year letterman. Her sister, Jospehine Veneges, is coming along very well as a pitcher and so is Hersel Felix as a pitcher and third baseman.”
Griffith pointed to a very strong defense and a great supporting cast as reasons this year could be different for the Lady Titans.
“Get ready for the Memorial Lady Titans this year,” Griffith said.