By Mike Bruu, TSB Staff
It hasn’t been an easy start for the McKinney North Lady softball team in 2012, but for a program that has made the playoffs every season since 2003, post-season aspirations still run high.
“Well, we expect to make the playoffs and hopefully go a little bit deeper than we have the last couple years,” head coach Daniel Sedgwick stated after North’s 10-0 loss versus Pilot Point Friday night. “Prior to that we were used to going deep, but the last few years we haven’t been able to do that and hopefully we can change that this year.”
The Lady Bulldogs started the season 4-5-1 with likely one more game in the MISD Invitational expected before District 10-4A play kicks off next Wednesday night at Wylie East. While North held its own this past Tuesday night against the fifth-ranked 5A team in the state Plano High School, losing 6-5 despite a furious comeback attempt, the Lady Bulldogs struggled mightily in the rematch Thursday morning, falling by a score of 21-0.
Things didn’t get much better for North on Friday night when Pilot Point run-ruled the Lady Bulldogs 10-0 in four innings. Even with a win earlier that day versus Crowley High School, Sedgwick knows his girls are not playing consistent ball so far this year.
“We have had our ups and downs. We are high as a kite and then get down pretty low,” says Sedgwick. “We are real young and it’s a real roller coaster ride right now, but they are starting to hit a little better now and we are beginning to make plays defensively we weren’t making before. So things are starting to come together.”
Looking at the Lady Bulldog roster with the player’s graduation years next to their names and you might believe after a while you are looking at a JV lineup with all of the freshmen and sophomores you see. Of the squad’s 16 players, 10 of them are underclassmen, but when Sedgwick was asked on which players would be key to the teams success this season, there was a solid mix of youth and veteran players.
“[Junior] Taylor McAllister, [Freshman] Celeste Verdolivo, [Junior] Faith Dixon, [Senior] Kayla Carpentier, [Senior] Raven Gutierrez; all those are worth watching,” he said. “Also [Sophomore] Alli Lindsey at shortstop, they are all doing really good things. I think we are going to be real good this year.”
For a program where making the playoffs is expected on a yearly basis, there is no such thing as a “rebuilding” year. After a 2011 campaign that saw a 2-0 series defeat in the hands of Frisco Wakeland end their season, the rush of youth for the Lady Bulldogs might be just what they need in order to come out hungrier than ever to return North softball to the postseason dominance people have come to expect.
One advantage that the Lady Bulldogs will have heading into District 10-4A play is their schedule; four of the first five games for McKinney North are against schools who did not make the post-season one year ago, with the lone exception the Crosstown Showdown matchup with McKinney High School at MHS.
McKinney North begins its district schedule next Wednesday night when they travel to Wylie East to play the Lady Raiders. Game time is 7 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs district home opener is next Friday versus JJ Pearce, beginning at 7 p.m.
Below is the full district schedule for McKinney North:
Date: School (Time)
March 7th: @ Wylie East (7)
March 9th: vs. JJ Pearce (7)
March 13th: vs. Rockwall Heath (7)
March 16th: @ McKinney High (7)
March 20th: @ Highland Park (7)
March 23rd: vs. Rockwall (7)
March 27th: @ Wylie (7)
March 30th: vs. Wylie East (7)
April 3rd: @ JJ Pearce (7)
April 5th: @ Rockwall Heath (7)
April 10th: vs. McKinney High (7)
April 13th: vs. Highland Park (7)
April 17th: @ Rockwall (7)
April 20th: vs. Wylie (7)