Waxahachie finished a game under .500 this year but look for that to change the next couple of seasons as the Lady Indians gained valuable experience in 2011.

Waxahachie had 10 sophomores and three freshmen on the playoff roster that will return in 2012 to give the team a big lift.

“As for the future of Waxahachie softball, I think that they could make a great run in playoffs pretty soon,” Waxahachie senior center fielder Tiffany Haines said.

“In my opinion, I think that their 2013 season will be the best. They will be solid in the infield with an experienced catcher, pitcher, third baseman, short stop and second baseman. Their hitting will be solid as well since most of our big hitters this year were freshmen and sophomores. If they really want a state championship they can definitely get one.”

Third baseman Ariel Ortiz led off all season long for the Lady Indians as a freshman and finished the year as the team Offensive MVP with a .568 average and a team-high 35 RBI. She stole seven bases while launching five home runs and legging out five triples.

She was one of two freshmen who jumped straight into a varsity starting position as Marissa Hooper played every game at catcher for the Lady Indians and batted all around the lineup posting a .271 average with 23 hits and 10 RBI.

In the circle for the second straight year for Waxahachie was sophomore Brooke Goad while sophomore Summer Davila was at short. Splitting time at second was sophomore Sam Castillo.

“Being a young team is an advantage to an extent because we have time to grow as players and get better offensively or defensively or even speed wise,” Ortiz said. “But we have to find the leadership among our underclassmen that our seniors had.”

Two players who will be counted upon as leaders are Goad and Davila.

“Last season was a great run for us and I believe our seniors,” Goad said. “We all worked hard and did what we were supposed to do. I think we had a great season being such a young team. In 2012 I think it will take us working twice as hard and becoming more close and comfortable with each other, to trust one another to make those plays and hit the ball when we need someone to come through. We have to have a strong defense next year all around and definitely bats.”

Goad started nearly every game for the Lady Indians in 2011 after splitting time her freshman year. She overcame shoulder problems early in the year to hold Elgin to five and six runs in the two playoff games.

At the plate Goad batted .386 with a team high seven home runs. She had 34 RBI, three stolen bases, four triples, eight doubles and 29 runs scored.

As a freshman Goad worked with a senior catcher and threw two no-hitters. This season she helped Hooper break in to the position and the two look forward to a couple more seasons together.

“Hooper was a great asset to the team. She became a freshman right at the time we needed a catcher and she pulled through and did a great job, offensively too,” Goad said.

Hooper did not feel pressure jumping straight into a varsity role since she has made her home on the diamond since she was 8.

“Brooke and I work well together. I even catch for her when she goes to her pitching coach. I think the more time that we work together as a pair the better we get and it also shows on the field when we all come together with the team,” Hooper said. “I look forward to the next two years playing with her. Hopefully, I will continue in the catching position and we will both continue to improve.”

Hooper was used as a sacrifice bunter early in the season before her hitting ability was recognized and used later in the year. It was her defensive ability that made it an easy decision to start her at catcher.

“I started out this year in the No. 2 batting spot as the sacrifice bunter. I was happy when coach noticed I could also be counted on to hit away if needed. I hope to be in more of a hitting roll in the coming years,” Hooper said.

“I think the strong part of my defensive game is my speed. I like to catch and I give a hundred percent during practice and games. I always try to show my ability to move around and throw quickly. I think it makes the other team think twice before trying to steal a base.”

While the battery of any team is important the defenders behind them are equally crucial to a team’s success.

With Ortiz’ ability to step up and lock down the third base position for the next three years and Davila already with two years of experience under her belt, the left side of the Waxahachie infield will be a black hole for opposing teams.

“The left side of the infield should be strong but overall every position will be strong next year with Marissa returning as our catcher, Brooke returning as our pitcher and Sam returning as our second baseman,” Davila said. “The impact Ariel had was great for our team because she was on base 50 percent of the time. She also led our team in RBIs because Tiffany Haines, Kaitlyn O’Brien and Lauren Johnson were on base a lot of those times.”

Davila batted .376 with three home runs, 29 RBI, eight doubles and 31 runs scored for Waxahachie while improving her game at short for the second straight year.

Waxahachie will be looking for a new first baseman next season and right now the position is open for grabs as two seniors spent most of the time at the position in 2011.

“Our coaching staff will make the best decision and will be working hard to make our next all-district first baseman,” Davila said.

Other underclassmen on the Waxahachie playoff roster include freshman Jaymie Kendrick, sophomore Jennifer Salazar, junior Katelyn Qualls, sophomore Cassie Hayes, sophomore Victoria Pannill, sophomore Tarah Manning, sophomore Taylor Engel, sophomore Katelynne Martinez, sophomore Taylor Molengraaf and junior Kealey Gardner.

Kendrick batted .541 and pitched for the JV Lady Indians in 2011 while Pannill batted .492, Gardner .400 and Hayes .370.

“Preparing for the next year for me mainly occurs during the summer,” Ortiz said. “With all the camps, practices, lessons and tournaments there is a lot of work being done. Our select team travels all over to compete against the best, to better our game and better the way we play the game together as a team. And of course when school starts the offseason running and working out will build all our strength and conditioning, but also working together as a team again and bonding as a team.

“I am really looking forward to the next three years of high school ball to play with the girls and see what the future holds.”