After near-miss, Lady Mustangs may end playoff drought

It took a tiebreaker this past season to keep Sweet-water’s softball team from getting a shot at the pro-gram’s first playoff berth since the 1990s. However, that hurdle may be cleared in 2012 with 11 returning lettermen — five of whom won all-district recognition — on this season’s 13-player roster. Still, the team will be young with only three seniors, along with eight juniors and two freshmen.First-year coach Robert Williams is excited about that potential as the Lady Mustangs prepare for their season opener at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against Winters.“We have a good young squad and hopefully we will be even better next year,” he said. “We lost just two seniors. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound and play great defense because that wins championships, and be sound with our fielding and hitting.”The all-district players who return include three infielders — senior Alicia Finn, senior Kinsey Browning and junior Suede Shirley — and two outfielders, junior twin sisters Kendra and Kelsi Crosson. Browning is the only one in that group who hasn’t star-ted the past two years.Others who have starting experience are senior Loni Mendez and juniors Keyli Turner, Jerren Villa, Jackie Carey, Angela Garza and Maty Montgomery. The two freshmen newcomers on the team are Claire Williams, daughter of the head coach, and Megan Holsey.Those who are projected as possible starters to begin the season are Turner at catcher, Finn or Williams at first base, Garza at second base, Browning at third base, Shirley at shortstop, either Kendra Crosson in left field, either Carey or Kelsi Crosson in centerfield, Villa in right field and Finn and Montgomery pitching.Also getting a chance at a starting spot are Williams and Mendez at catcher, Hol-sey at second base, Williams and Mendez at third base, Holsey in the outfield and Shirley at pitcher.Sweetwater will carry 13 players on the varsity squad and 13 or 14 on the JV. Six players — Finn, Shirley, Williams, Browning and both Crossons — joined the team just this past week due to the fact they played basketball. But Coach Williams expects them to all make a quick adjustment.“We want to go into dis-trict as strong as we can,” he said. “I don’t think there will be any easy games in our district. Our goal is to go to the playoffs, and then to go as far as we can.”