FORSAN — In the past eight years, the Forsan softball program has been dominant.
Under the tutelage of Head Coach Shanna Taylor, the Lady Buffaloes — who recorded a 12-2 district record — have not only made the playoffs each season, they have not been knocked out until the regional quarterfinal round or later.
After the recent University Interscholastic league realignment, Forsan dropped from Class 2A to 1A — making it an even bigger fish in an even smaller pond. And that's just fine with Taylor, who hopes to take her girls all the way to the state championship in 2013.
“We kind of had a slow start,” Taylor said. “Partly because we got our basketball players back later than usual. It's great for them, but it put us in a bind as far as getting ready for district quickly. As the season progressed, we got in our groove. I started to feel confident in both our hitting and fielding. For the most part, we outhit the other teams in our district. I feel we have a good, strong defense.”
Forsan's pitching could be stronger, according to Taylor, but Ali Knight and Maddie Munsell have done a fine job of keeping opponents in check from the circle.
“Ali has pitched for us before, so she has experience,” Taylor explained. “She wasn't used to having to carry the whole load, but she's done a good job for us. So has Maddie. I haven't seen a real dominant pitcher yet. I don't see it coming down to who has the best pitcher. I think it's going to be who has the best hitters.”
Taylor's three seniors — Kayla Tilley, Shelby Roemer and Stephanie Duffer — have provided valuable leadership on the field, though underclassmen comprise the brunt of the Lady Buffaloes.
“Kayla and Shelby are my veterans,” Taylor said. “I rely on them heavily. And both of them had to come in and physically work to get themselves into softball shape. They put in extra sessions in the weight room to get back and they both did very well. Stephanie had to work hard to fill her spot at second base and keep it. I'm pleased with all the players for what they have overcome.”
The first opponent Taylor needs to dispatch in order to make a postseason run is Clyde-Eula. A school Taylor believes her squad should be able to handle.
“I feel good going into the playoffs,” Taylor said. “I went and watched Eula play Albany. They hit the ball well, they scored 11 runs. I think our defense may be able to prevent some of those runs, though. And our offense is averaging 14-16 hits per game. It's a very strong lineup. You can't really pitch around anybody. They are all capable of hitting the ball.”
As for now, Taylor's emphasis is on the mental aspect of the game — toughening her roster up before they face off against the best teams in the region.
“We've had moments where we get down on ourselves,” Taylor added. “We're trying to focus on pressure situations and how to get out of them. We want to avoid that bad inning. When we've had a bad inning, most of the runs started with a walk. If we can limit the walks to two or three per game — I don't want to say we can't be beaten, because anything can happen — but it would be harder to beat us. I think we will go very deep. We could have that bad game or bad inning, but we could go all the way and I tell the girls, we should go all the way.”
The Lady Buffs will take the field at San Angelo Central on Saturday at noon.