Softball begins the season after complete makeover

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Isaiah Thornton

Staff Writer

TJC softball is bringing back just one member from their historic 60-6 season last year as well as a whole new coaching staff. Head Coach Maria Winn-Ratliff has taken over the program after being the Head Coach for twelve years at Western Nebraska Community College.

Even with the preseason polls not going the Apaches’ way, Coach Winn expects nothing less than a winning season. She expects everyone to step up, from the sophomores to the freshmen.

“Rankings are important, it’s good to have them so you can be recognized and make it a goal for the team to build toward,” said Coach Winn. “It’s hard to get preseason ranked because there’s so much turn over in the junior college level.”

In her 12th season, she posted a 535-218-1 record. In the past nine seasons, Coach Winn has brought her team to dominance. She has posted a 40 plus season nine times and a 50 plus winning streak the last four consecutive seasons. She was also chosen six times for Region 9 Coach of the Year.

Since the beginning of the season the Apaches have started off strong, going undefeated in their first five games. Since then, the Apaches have split a pair of games and have had two players, Briana Paysinger and Kelly Mardones, named region 14 East Player and Pitcher of the week.

“I don’t think we need just one player to step up; we need all 17 players to step up,” said Winn. “As I like to think we have 17 superstars on the field.”

Coach Winn wants to dominate, but her main focus is in the classroom. Winn believes if the team gets their work done in the classroom, they’ll be able to handle their business on the field. Her biggest goal this season is to have a 3.0 team grade point average. Coach Winn is more than a softball coach to these young women, she’s a mentor and a friend. Coach Winn wants her team to know that a college degree should always be the number one goal.

As far as on the field, the main focus for Coach Winn’s team will be batting, as the season begins it’s first leg.

“If we get our hitting down I believe we can be one of the best teams in the country,” said Coach Winn.

Thus far the team is hitting a combined average of .348 and their on-base percentage stands at .442 with a .548 slugging percentage. They also have 58 runs batted in with eight home runs. But Coach Winn believes many times stats don’t tell the whole story.

“Stats are like a bikini; sometimes they show enough and sometimes they show too much,” said Winn.

This team believes they have exactly what it takes to become the best in the region. With good coaching and focused practices, the Apaches can excel to unmeasurable levels. The lady Apaches next home game will be at Bullard High School Feb. 21 versus Weatherford College.

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