Tag: Mansfield

Mansfield softball senior leadership is a big hit

Morgan RiosMansfield’s Morgan Rios, left, has caught for varsity all four years of high school.

You don’t build a successful high school softball program with hit-and-miss leadership. A good program develops the leadership each and every year so that a culture perpetuates the success.

For Mansfield, there’s no hit-and-miss leadership. In fact, it’s more like hit-and-hit … and hit-and-hit.

Many of the reasons why Mansfield’s head coach Jennifer Haltom is able to put quality teams on the field the last few years are now seniors.

Morgan Rios has been behind the plate for four years now, while fellow seniors Kaitlin Richards (first base), Sarah Reinke (shortstop) and Resheda Townsend (third base) have been starters since their sophomore years.

“All four are tops in most offensive categories and they anchor my infield,” Haltom said.

Indeed, the four seniors take great pride in their ability to hit the ball.

In the last eight games leading up to its Friday game with Arlington Martin, Mansfield had averaged 8.9 runs per game.

Townsend had already registered five homeruns before the Friday game.

“We’re really good as a whole team,” Townsend said of the Lady Tigers’ hitting.

And offense figures into what it will take for the Lady Tigers to get back to the playoffs and at least match their third-round appearance.

“As long as we hit,” Townsend explained as to what the key will be. “If you score more than they do, you win the game.”

The pressure may be on the quartet’s hitting more than on their leadership skills.

All four noted that the responsibilities for leading the team have come easier as their time on the squad increased.

They also attribute the tradition and the skill set of those who came before them as reasons why the Mansfield program has remained strong.

“There have been great leaders before us,” Reinke said.

“I think coming in as a freshman and even my sophomore year, there were a lot of seniors who have set an amazing example and they want you to be up there, too,” Richards said. “They taught to work hard and never give up.”

Rios had an inspiring take on her fourth season at Mansfield.

“The way all four of us seniors have stepped up and taken on this leadership role has been something magical,” Rios said. “I think it’s something that makes our team special. We’ve been able to create this chemistry and environment where every player is selfless.”

There has also been an evolving of the leadership over the course of the four years.

“I’ve seen the way this team has evolved,” Rios said. “Over time we’ve bonded stronger, correlating with how over the years all of the seniors progressed into being better and better leaders. It’s not something you see in every team, every senior sharing the same goal and passion for the game that they help carry down for the younger girls. Takes us to a whole new level.”

Even though the four seniors have ample experience, they admit they aren’t resistant to learning each week.

They pointed to a 10-run loss to Paschal when they felt their energy was low and, by their standards, the bats were silent even though they plated five runs.

The next outing, the Lady Tigers belted Legacy, 17-10.

“We’re a good, solid team but we just always have to show up,” Reinke said. “We need a lot of energy. When we’re loose, we do better.”

The pressure from Haltom is for them to just live up to their potential.

“She expects a lot out of us,” Reinke said. “She knows what we’re capable of.”

But where this team goes this season remains to be seen as the district schedule unfolds.

“I’m excited to see how far we will go,” Rios said, hoping to add her third district title. “We’ve been through a lot as a team already due to injuries and other issues, but I think it’s going to help us in the long run. It’s really shaped us and given us this motivation. I really believe in this team. As long as we play lights-out defense and keep hitting the ball like we know how, we should easily surpass our third-round run.”

All four will be playing next year at the next level.

Reinke will play at Arkansas Tech, Rios is going to Louisiana Monroe, Townsend to Prairie View A&M and Richards will be at McLennan Junior College.

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Mansfield senior’s springtime dingers come from winter training

Mansfield senior’s springtime dingers come from winter training

Rasheda Townsend is already building strength for the spring.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.

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