The Brownwood Lady Lions have reeled off 26 consecutive district victories — never losing a league game under head coach Amanda Sheffield — en route to collecting three consecutive softball district titles.
The nucleus of those district championship squads has graduated and Sheffield is among the first to admit the Lady Lions (7-8-1) have experienced their share of growing pains this season — especially with a starting lineup that features a few freshmen.
Still, the goals for the Lady Lions have not changed as they open District 8-3A action at 7 p.m. at Burnet. Sheffield and the Lady Lions want to add to their collection of district championship trophies and extend the program’s string of postseason appearances to nine years in a row, yet realize the challenge is more daunting than ever before during the coach’s tenure.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Sheffield said. “In order to do this we must be mentally tough and battle every night. I know that if we play to our potential we will achieve the things we want to achieve in the new district. It will just come down to our intensity and our desire to succeed.”
The Lady Lions have been led by the play of three-time district MVP Sydney Laws, third baseman Cherita George, center fielder Alyson Finnigan, left fielder Shelbi Winstead and first baseman Kathryn Walker. Three freshman find themselves in the starting lineup in shortstop Ashley Gomez, right fielder Kristen Fuentes and catcher Tori Burkett, while transfer Halie Hipsher is manning second base.
“We’ve had to work through many growing pains, and some were expected because of the talent we lost from last year and all the new faces this year,” Sheffield said. “We’ve struggled to be consistent at this point. We have the talent and have showed that at times, and then other times we have struggled to put it all together and be consistent. I’ve seen some great things at different points from certain individuals and that has been refreshing. I am more than confident that we will put all the pieces together, because there are so many good pieces to this team.”
Following the opener against Burnet, the Lady Lions face the following schedule: at Liberty Hill (March 19), Lampasas (March 22), at Gatesville (March 26), Llano (March 28), Burnet (April 5), Liberty Hill (April 9), at Lampasas (April 12), Gatesville (April 16) and at Llano (April 19).
“I think we have the capabilities to continue to succeed in district, even in this new district,” Sheffield said. “This is a good group of girls and they want to go out there and prove themselves. If we can be consistent, and play a complete seven innings we will be all right. We will have to show up every night because this is a tough district, but we are more than capable.”