The basketball season is just now headed into district, but Mansfield’s softball players are already preparing for a return to the diamond.
What they’re working on now has to do with physics.
Returning third baseman Rasheda Townsend knows one of the simplest tricks to enhance her hitting.
“The stronger you are, the farther the ball goes,” Townsend said.
So, you’ll find Townsend in the weight room, a home-away-from-home during the offseason.
To complement the lifting, Townsend and her teammates find time to work on the other side of that equation.
Hitting is another essential for Townsend. She said she hits a lot.
“I put in a lot of work on my hitting,” she said. “When the season ended last year, I went with my travel team and have been focusing a lot on my hitting, because hitting wins games.”
Townsend explained that with all the extra select league work, most players get the work they need on fielding and defense. It’s not an aspect which is as big of a struggle since they’ve been doing it all summer long, she said.
She played with the local Firecrackers select team, which had a solid season and went to New York to compete.
Fielding is already “solid,” Townsend said, enough that she can turn her focus to hitting.
The regimen for the Lady Tigers is paying off, too.
Before the strength and conditioning program implemented by coach Shane Trotter, Mansfield had typically hit 20-plus home runs during the season.
After Trotter’s plan was implemented before last season, Mansfield players hit more than 20 home runs before district got underway.
“He makes workouts for the team for strengthening the shoulder, too,” Townsend said, noting that fatigued arms were a rarity last year. “It’s definitely had an impact on how our bodies deal with it.”
While Townsend pleaded ignorance as to her batting average last season, she does collect her home run balls and keeps them in a bucket at home.
“I don’t know how many there are, but there are a few that I remember some specifics about them,” Townsend said of her dinger collection.
Townsend has already committed to play at Prairie View A&M next year and is glad that decision is off her shoulders for her senior year.
That campaign won’t officially start until practices begin Jan. 23, with the first scrimmage just a week later. The first game of the season will have Townsend and the Lady Tigers taking on Birdville, a team Mansfield defeated in last year’s playoffs en route to a third-round appearance after finishing as district champions.
Until then the workouts continue, with Townsend saying she doesn’t really take any time off throughout the year.
“When you love the game, you don’t like taking breaks. I enjoy playing softball. As long as you take care of your body, I can do it without breaks,” she said.
Townsend said she’s ready for the practices to roll around and to pick up where the team left off. She said the team is expected to skip some of the elementary steps and jump into team defensive drills.
And they’ll see what impact the weight-lifting can bring. Townsend may have to buy some bigger buckets this season.