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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Orangefield hopes to repeat last year's success in softball

 

Last updated 2/19/2024 at 2:20pm

Coach Rebekah Ragsdale led the Orangefield softball team to its best season ever last year and hopes the Lady Bobcats can repeat that success this year

The softball program at Orangefield had its most successful season ever last year. The Lady Bobcats won the district championship and advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs before being eliminated by Grandview which at the time was the top ranked team in Class 3A.

Coach Rebekah Ragsdale of the Lady Bobcats hopes to build on that success this season. "It was really good to see that kind of competition, we can use Grandview as a measuring stick for us. To be up there with those kind of teams is exciting and promising for us," Ragsdale replied.

Orangefield returns all but three players from that outstanding team of last year. Nine Lady Bobcats return from 2023 so Coach Ragsdale will have plenty of experience with which to build another strong team for this season.

Seven to eight of those nine were starters last season, and four of them are seniors. Abigail Curphey is a four year starter as a pitcher, Paris Becker will be a leader playing outfield for her third year as a starter on varsity, Greenlea Oldham is a three year starter at first base, and Abigail Broussard is a three year varsity starter for the Lady Bobcats.

Junior Alysen Vincent is back after getting extensive playing time last year. Four sophomores played as freshmen and will be counted on to produce for Orangefield in their second year on the varsity. They are Aubree Beck, Hallee Becker, Charlee Sanches, and Haylee Spears.

Ragsdale evaluated, "We're kind of in a different spot from a year ago when we felt we were so young. We just kind of rolled through the year and were kind of sneaking up on some people, and this year it's going to be completely different we're going to have to learn to play with a target on our back and learn to play with that kind of pressure. That's going to be the challenge for the Lady Bobcats this season to test our resilience and how we're able to bounce back playing with that kind of pressure."

There are three newcomers to the Orangefield varsity softball team. Audrey Sonnier is a junior who will see a lot of time running the bases. Two freshmen will be in the varsity lineup. Paisley Reeves will be coming out of basketball when the Lady Bobcats' season is over in that sport, and Brennah Lee is playing first base as Oldham's protege in order to fill that position after Greenlea graduates later this year.

The Lady Bobcats hit the ball very good last season and have started the scrimmages pounding it. Orangefield scored thirteen runs with thirteen hits in a scrimmage against Nederland on February 5.

The Orangefield lineup should have some girls good at getting on base and others with power at the top of the batting order. Leadoff batter Hallee Becker slap hits her way on base with frequency and has speed on the bases. Hallee's sister Paris will bat second ahead of Aubree Beck who should have plenty of opportunities for runs batted in followed by Charlee Sanches in the four hole where more big hits are expected from her like a year ago.

The middle of the Orangefield batting order is not to be overlooked. Abigail Curphey has been a consistent hitter, big hits are expected from Abbie Broussard, and Alysen Vincent is being counted on to produce some timely hits like she did in the Nederland scrimmage.

"I've been impressed with us offensively, and usually about this time of year that's not necessarily the case. Pitching is usually a little bit ahead of hitting, but so far I've been pretty excited. I think some of these younger girls that have been on varsity will come through, and I'm just hoping for a lot of consistency from them one through nine. We're going to have some young ones down at the bottom of the batting order, but I think all of the Lady Bobcats will have a chance to contribute, and I think for the most part we're going to be pretty balanced," Ragsdale expressed.

Pitching is always important in softball and Orangefield made it to the fourth round of the playoffs last year with outstanding pitching from Abigail Curphey. More of the same will be needed this season if the Lady Bobcats are to repeat that success.

Coach Ragsdale is hoping to have some depth this year in the circle. Three Lady Bobcats Abigail Curphey, Charlee Sanches, and Alysen Vincent are all seeing time during the scrimmages.

Curphey had knee surgery in December and is still working herself back into full shape to handle the responsibility as the number one starter. Abigail answered some of Coach Ragsdale's questions about her stamina with a nine inning complete game outing in a 4-1 win over Jasper on February 13.

Sanches should get more innings than she did after throwing during several varsity games last year. Ragsdale stipulated, "I haven't really decided what we're going to do yet. I don't know if we're going to work by committee or what the plan is going to be, but I do anticipate using all three throughout the season. I especially want to get Charlee some more innings because her being a sophomore and losing Curphey at the end of this season it looks like Charlee will be our ace in a year so definitely working to get her into that role as well."

Just getting to the playoffs is no easy trip around the diamond in Orangefield's district. The Lady Bobcats have tough district opposition in Kountze, Anahuac, Buna, and Kirbyville.

Coach Ragsdale said after winning the district and getting as far in the playoffs as the Orangefield Lady Bobcats did last year she has a new found appreciation for teams that can consistently do it year after year. She stated the fact that it is incredibly difficult to repeat last year's performance.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work. Last year the girls worked their tails off. We had a lot of things go our way, and we joked we'd rather be lucky than good and sometimes we had luck that went our way too. It was like a Cinderella story, a fairy tale story book, but absolutely that's the expectation again, and with returning so many girls and just having the knowledge and experience that we do now I think anything less than a district championship would be a disappointment ultimately. We are always trying to set the bar a little bit higher and see if we can make a little more school history," Ragsdale concluded.

 

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