In recent years, the Guyer Lady Wildcats have been loaded with returning experience all over the diamond, which has led to a run of successful seasons that has seen them make the playoffs in every year of their existence except for 2006, the year Guyer opened.
The pinnacle came in 2010, when Guyer made it to the UIL state tournament before losing to eventual state champion Waco Midway in the semifinals behind a strong and experienced senior class.
That season, this year’s five seniors were freshmen and all made the trip to Austin with two — Suzette Palmer and Megan Washam — seeing playing time. Washam started in the outfield and was one of the area’s top hitters, while Palmer got a handful of starts as the designated player.
But since they were sophomores, they’ve all started, and Guyer head coach Keith Medford knows his team will go this season as far as his senior leaders can take it.
“It’s a pretty unique team in the fact that we have five seniors with a ton of experience and the rest don’t have a whole lot,” Medford said. “We have a couple of sophomores that have one year, and then there’s going to be some young kids who will have to fill in and round out the roster.”
Not only does Medford have a good core of senior leadership at his disposal, but also it’s at key positions, starting with his starting battery of Palmer and Washam, who will start her second season at catcher after playing outfield and first base in her first two seasons.
Kylie Miyata will be at second base, while center fielder Kaitlyn Thomas and left fielder Kennedy Been also return.
“There is a lot of pressure on Suzie pitching with a younger defense behind her, but I think having the three of us and Kylie and Kennedy back there will help us not freak out if something goes wild,” Washam said. “We can be that calming force on the field for the younger kids who might not be used to the pressure. It’s different.
“In club ball, if you make a mistake, you’re just kind of like, ‘Whatever,’ but in school ball everyone’s depending on you. It’s a different kind of pressure.”
The four freshmen and two sophomores, including transfer Shayne Starkey, who is expected to start at first base and also get time in the circle, got their first taste of action Monday night as Guyer faced crosstown rival Ryan in the regular-season opener. The game was originally scheduled for today, but was moved to Monday because of the threat of inclement weather.
The team will be playing in Class 4A again after a two-year stint in Class 5A that saw them ousted by state powerhouses Hebron and Plano in the bi-district round. While the Lady Wildcats are returning to 4A, where they played in the state tournament in their most recent 4A season, Medford and his players know the competition won’t be much different.
In fact, Medford said that if there were any difference, it would be a tougher row to hoe in the regular season with a loaded district that includes state-ranked Wichita Falls Rider, Trophy Club Nelson, an upstart Lake Dallas program and perennially good teams such as Azle and Fort Worth Brewer.
“These kids aren’t stupid,” Medford said when asked if he needed to guard against his players thinking 4A will be an easy road. “They play in the summer and they know the kids we’ll be competing against. We really never made a big deal about moving to 5A, and we’re not going to make a big deal about moving back down to 4A. They tell us who we have to play, and we’re going to do that.
“To be real honest, this 4A district is going to be more competitive than the 5A district we were in last year. That sounds silly, but we’re in a very competitive 4A district, which will be better for us in the long run. If you can make it out of the district, you’re going to be in good shape.”
If all goes as planned for Thomas, she and her teammates will be doing the same thing those seniors back in 2010 were able to do.
“I want to go to state,” she said. “I want to go out like the seniors did when I was a freshman and graduate on the field and all that stuff.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
LADY WILDCATS ROSTER
Head coach: Keith Medford
Assistant coaches: Lora Briggs, Ashton McBride, Jennifer Palmer