Kingwood Softball was very close to winning it all in 2013 and last season they made another deep run in the playoffs. With the amount of seniors that the Lady Mustangs have on roster this season, you can bet that they hungry to give this one last push for a title before they graduate. Head Coach Lauren Hendrix and a couple of her girls gave us some of their thoughts on how they can make that happen.
The starters were pretty much set for the Lady Mustangs going into the season. With the exception of one freshman (Alicia DeLeon) that made the team, Kingwood is full of upperclassmen. Freshman pitcher Maddie Lindsey was a nice surprise to the program when she moved into the district but she is ineligible to play varsity her first year due to the UIL rules on move-in players in the district.
Kingwood competed in a couple of tournaments this year. At the Cy Fair Tournament they were rained out one day so they had to play 3 games in one day. They ended up winning the tournament by defeating the current #4 team in the nation and district rival Atascocita 4-1 in the finals. They also defeated Cy Woods 6-4 and Nederland 4-2. In College Station the girls had a rematch of the 2013 State Championship game against Lewisville but fell once again 3-7. They also fell to Brazoswood 4-6. “I think losing a few games along the way is never a bad thing. You don’t want to do it, but it’s not a bad thing if you can learn from your mistakes and I think they have,” Coach Hendrix admitted.
The previous season Kingwood finished second in the district standings and played Lufkin in the first round of the playoffs. They swept them in a best-of-3 series and swept Pflugerville in the next round as well. In the regional quarterfinals they faced Oak Ridge. They won the first game 5-1 but lost the second 4-8. In the third game Kingwood was victorious 3-1 to advance to the regional tournament where they met the winners of District 12-5A, Rockwall. Kingwood managed to win the first game in extra innings 1-0 but lost the next two 2-4 and 7-9 thus eliminating them from contention. “I think we could’ve beat Rockwall but that’s still a good turnout for us as we lost a lot of kids the year before,” Coach Hendrix stated.
The girls are going into the new district 16-6A and a tough road ahead. “I think this is the toughest district in the state,” confessed Coach Hendrix. Despite the challenges they are sure to face, Kingwood’s goal is to win the district. Two years removed from a state finals appearance, the softball program is always going to have high expectations of themselves. “The goal is to win it,” Coach Hendrix continued. The coaching staff has high expectations from junior infielders Lindsay and Lacy Gregory. They also expect big bats from Georgie and Allie Gonzalez. “Just throughout the lineup we need to execute whether that’s small game or hits. Whatever’s called upon, we need to get the job done,” Coach Hendrix said. A lot of girls have already committed to college programs. The Gregory twins committed to North Texas, Ashley Johnson to Belmont, Georgie Gonzalez to Incarnate Word, Makena Janis to Trinity, Brittney Bryson to St. Edwards, and Sydney Dennis to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
Senior pitcher Ashley Johnson was coached by her father and has grown up with the game of softball. She expects the season to be a very successful one and, in her eyes, when the team comes together, they have the potential to compete with anyone and sees another state title appearance. “I think everybody on the team has to 100% buy in to this season and buy into the whole program giving it everything we’ve got and we can make it,” Johnson said. Junior catcher Alex Colon started softball at a young age by the influence of her mother. She praised her teammates on their commitment, talent, and work ethic. She sees a deep playoff run as long as they execute. “We have to give 100% at practice, no days off,” Colon said.
The girls head over to elementary schools such as Greentree and Willowcreek and read to the students. They also assist them with some assignments that they need help with whenever they have a Thursday morning available.
Lauren Hendrix’s father has been the biggest influence on her coaching career. “He was my coach from the time I was playing tee ball to the time I went to college,” Coach Hendrix mentioned. “He’s the reason that helped me get the scholarship and become the player and coach I am today.” The two still discuss each game to this day. Hendrix attended and played softball at Kingwood High School and then received a scholarship to play softball at the University of Arkansas playing shortstop. Her brother, Landon, was a former KHS football player.
Written by Mark M. Johnson