No matter the sport, when Waxahachie High School athletes put on the green and white there are high expectations.

With seven games under their belt the 2011 Waxahachie Lady Indians are ready to live up to high expectations and return to the postseason.

“Even though we lost some key players everybody has worked really hard and has gotten a lot better,” senior center fielder Tiffany Haines said. “We also have some very talented new members of our varsity team that are extremely talented and will have a big impact on both our defense and our offense. I think our softball program has one thing that will set us apart from the other teams and that is our speed and our love of the game. Our desire to always give our best and push ‘til the end will be our key to playoffs and possibly a district championship.”

In his second year back in Waxahachie, head softball coach Steve Howell does not have the experienced players he had last season but says that no matter the year, the expectations never change.

“Expectations are high, every year they are. It is Waxahachie Lady Indian softball and we are expected to be good. Year in and year out my expectations are to remain consistent and play at the highest level we can play. If that is good enough to get us in the playoffs so be it,” Howell said. “Our first goal is to make the playoffs and our second is to win a district championship. After that we will see how far we can go. We have a young team and something to build on this season and next.”

Haines, Katelyn O’Brien and Tori Kvapil are the returning varsity seniors that are expected to provide veteran leadership to a team with two freshman and five sophomores.

“Coming into softball never playing before was really intimidating and as a leader I try to be that senior that the younger players look up to and say ‘if she can do it, then so can I.’ I always try to tell the younger players that no matter how long you’ve been playing, whether it’s been 10 years or you’re touching a softball for the first time, like I did my freshman year, you can be as great as you want to be. It’s all about how much you want it and how passionate you are about what you’re doing,” Haines said. “I always strive to do my best and cheer on my teammates because I know they do the same for me.”

With the exception of first base, Waxahachie’s entire infield will be underclassmen this season while the outfield looks to be manned by seniors.

Haines is locked into the center field position and O’Brien is in left. Kvapil and sophomore Taylor Engel are battling for right.

Lauren Johnson was the lone senior starter in the infield in the season opener against Midlothian as she got the start at first base.

Bree Lawrence and Rebecca Pevehouse join the varsity this season as seniors and give the team speed off the bench and the ability to play several positions.

“Speed is by far our biggest strength. I think we can run and that is something we will have to take advantage of. We have speed in the outfield to run down and catch balls and we also have the ability to steal bases,” Howell said.

“I have a couple of positions that are open and the girls are fighting for but we are going to have to find the best nine hitters we have got. Some of them might not be able to physically hit the ball against a certain pitcher so we are going to have to play a short game and bunt the ball. We do have speed. So I am not sure if we are going to be a team that just gets the ball down and runs or what just yet.”

Sophomore Brooke Goad is the No. 1 pitcher while Johnson will also see time in the circle.

Freshman Marissa Hooper is at catcher while freshman Ariel Ortiz is penciled in the leadoff spot and plays third base.

“Marissa and Brooke are really talented players. Judging from last year I’m confident that Brooke will be just fine in the circle. Her age isn’t an issue, she’s a very talented player,” Haines said.

“She’s able to handle the pressure of a varsity game and has an amazing catcher behind the plate. I don’t think we’ve really ever had a bad catcher and I’d say Marissa’s catching is a very important addition to the team. Both Marissa and Brooke will do a fabulous job helping the team win games. Even if they do let a few hits slip we have a very good defense that’s always ready to back them up.”

Sophomore Summer Davila returns at short stop while sophomores Sam Castillo and Cassie Hayes are competing for second base.

“I think we have a good defensive team. We did not show it in our opening game but the left side of my infield is solid and my outfielders normally don’t make errors either,” Howell said. “Teams are going to make contact with the ball and we are going to have to make some plays.”

Howell returns the same coaching staff (Stephanie Poole, Bridget Melton, Joe Wakeland, Dana Scott) that helped guide the Lady Indians to the area playoffs last season and Haines thinks that will be an advantage this season.

“I think that I should give the coaching staff a round of applause. Coach Howell, Poole, Melton, Wakeland and Scott have been the best and I feel like they don’t get enough recognition for their hard work. We would never have become the team that we are without our coaches. Not only are they amazing coaches but they are fun to be around and want to win as much as the players do,” Haines said.