With Boyd and the rest of the senior class gone from the title-winning team, it might be easy to focus on what the Lady Bruins lose.
Northwest coach Jason Brooker is happier thinking about what his team returns for his second season leading the program.
Six starters return, and plenty of others got a lot of playing time as Northwest marched through state competition. All six of the returning seniors were members of The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Softball Team last season.
“We have a real strong and experienced senior class with six that have played a lot since they were freshmen,” Brooker said. “They have a lot of varsity experience. Games like baseball and softball are so mental, and the mental experience of those girls is probably more valuable than the physical.”
Catcher Bayli Cruse, first baseman Mallory Souther, shortstop Ashley Conner and outfielders Hannah Godfrey, Colbie Thomas and Macy Weeks all return. Weeks and Souther were the only players out of that group to hit worse than .400, but Souther had 17 extra-base hits and Weeks might be considered the best defensive outfielder in the area.
Based on last year’s numbers, the Lady Bruins shouldn’t lose a step at the plate, but Brooker insists the team will not just be an offensive juggernaut.
“From the outside, that is easy to say, and I would say there are going to be games where we have to score more runs, but BriLeigh Baggett is a good pitcher and had a strong year,” Brooker said of the junior who will step into the void left in the circle by Boyd. “You aren’t going to hit it every game, but I expect us to be stronger offensively.”
As a sophomore, Baggett finished with a 7-1 record with a 1.36 ERA in 46 1/3 innings. She showed power with 41 strikeouts and averaged less than a walk every two innings.
With the pitching and the offense, the Lady Bruins have the potential to remain one of the top teams in Class 4A.
“We don’t want to be overconfident, but I guess I would say that we are not intimidated by any means,” Brooker said. “We can’t just show up and put our uniforms on and expect people to roll over. We have to continue to play.”
Northwest opens its season Monday at Coahulla Creek with a 5:55 p.m. first pitch.