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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

New coach sees improvement for Lady Mustang softball

 

Last updated 2/19/2024 at 2:19pm

Ashton Gautreaux is the new softball head coach for the Lady Mustangs and is working to improve their performance this season

The West Orange-Stark Lady Mustangs have a new head coach who is a familiar face for their softball program. Ashton Gautreaux takes the position as head coach of the Lady Mustangs after serving the past two years as the assistant softball coach.

In her two years at West Orange-Stark Coach Gautreaux has seen improvement in the Lady Mustangs. "I feel for sure we're moving in the right direction. We are doing a bunch of stuff differently than we have been in the past, and I know how West Orange-Stark has played before when I was at Orangefield. There's a lot of talent in our kids, there's a lot of athleticism. Unfortunately, a lot of the Lady Mustangs don't play select ball like most schools around here do, so we're having to teach them the basics, teach them the fundamentals, which is hard, but I love it because I'm getting to teach them the way they need to be taught. I expect us to have more wins this season than we have in the past," Gautreaux explained.

Nine Lady Mustangs return this year who saw time on the varsity last season including seniors Jordynn Patton, Crystal Santibanez, and Marilynn Guillory. Gautreaux indicated, "They will all contribute in the outfield a lot, and Jordynn will also contribute as a first baseman."

Juniors Soleil Smith, Latessa Turner, Tykeira Montgomery, Carlysia Simien, and Imani Jenkins will play significant innings for WOS. "Soleil is really big in the outfield for us and so is Carlysia. Latessa is our pitcher right now. TK, Tykeira, will play a lot of infield positions, and Imani will play first base," Gautreaux pointed out.

Kensley Waller is a sophomore who played on the varsity as a freshman. Gautreaux added, "Kensley will play infield for us as well as be our number two pitcher."

There will be some new faces on the West Orange-Stark varsity softball team this season who are move ins to the school district or played on the junior varsity last year. Juniors Emma Warren and Miracle Watson will help the Lady Mustangs a lot. They will play infield and both swing big bats according to the coach.

Three sophomores Christian Berry, La'Riya Nelson, and Mallory Mims will provide depth for the Lady Mustangs in the outfield. Berry whose nickname is Tiny has an especially potent bat.

Last but not least on the varsity is freshman Alexia Guyton who will rotate filling two big holes for the Lady Mustang created by graduation. "Lexi will be big for us in the catching position which is a big spot to fill from T'Era Garrett who is now at Blinn, and she will also play shortstop for us replacing Nataliegh Sims from last year. Lexi is filling in some big spots where we need her," Gautreaux emphasized.

Some of the new Lady Mustangs have shown the capability to have an impact with their bats. Two of the best hitters from last season at WOS are expected to do more slugging this year.

Gautreaux elaborated, "Latessa Turner is still our big four hole hitter, we expect big things out of her this year. Soleil Smith had one of the highest on base percentages I have ever seen last year just from getting hit by the ball and taking walks which was amazing. Soleil is already doing that this preseason. Some new girls Emma Warren, Miracle Watson, Lexi Guyton, and TK Montgomery we expect big things out of all of them."

Emphasis will be made on an asset the Lady Mustangs have which is their speed. "We're going to focus on the small game as well. We have a bunch of quick girls. We want to get the ball in play, we're going to do some punches, we're going to do some bunts, we're going to get on, we're going to steal bases, it's doing a lot of the little things right for us," Gautreaux described.

Good pitching is vital to have a successful team in softball. Gautreaux admitted, "I'm not going to lie pitching has really not been our strong suit since I've been at West Orange-Stark. We've had a lot of walks, a lot of hit by pitches."

The two Lady Mustangs that will see the most time in the circle are Latessa Turner and Kensley Waller. They have been working hard to get better.

"Latessa and Kensley are doing a lot better than they have been. They worked all off season on pitching. Latessa is our speed, Kensley is our movement. We're going to use them differently in different situations against different teams, and I'm hoping for the best out of both of them," Gautreaux evaluated.

Backing up the pitchers with solid fielding and defense is a primary goal for the coach. Gautreaux indicated, "Our errors have been a lot in the past couple years. I've been emphasizing with the Lady Mustangs we've got to have our pitcher's back. They're both pitching a lot better than they have been, so whenever the ball does get hit in play we've got to let the pitchers know we have their back, and we've got to get those outs."

There is some optimism that the fortunes of West Orange-Stark softball will be improving. "We have to do the little things right, and that has been my emphasis during the off season and during this preseason as well. The Lady Mustangs play in a really tough district as everyone knows where all the other girls at the other schools play select ball all year round. We are going to focus on the small ball game, we are going to be smart on the bases, we going to knock down those high number of errors in the field, we are going to make sure we backup our pitchers, and also we are focusing on not striking out as much. We want to put the ball in play. We are a really young team, and we're going to return most of these kids next year. This is for sure a rebuilding year for us, but I do expect us to compete and I do expect great things from these kids," Gautreaux concluded.

 

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